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5 Christmas albums that don't suck!

Jazz Snow
Dec 14, 2015 Updated Dec 26, 2015

It's that time of year again... Here's a list of recordings that will cut through the cheese and keep your foot tapping this Christmas!

Many of these recordings will be featured on our Christmas jazz playlist, starting December 21.


1. Blue Christmas - Miles Davis

You wouldn't believe it, but the first time Miles played with Wayne Shorter was on a Columbia Christmas Compilation. From Miles' autobiography: "Then Columbia got the bright idea of making an album for Christmas, and they thought it would be hip if I had this silly singer named Bob Dorough on the album, with Gil arranging. We got Wayne Shorter on tenor, a guy named Frank Reliak on trombone, and Willie Bobo on bongos, and in August we did this album. The less said about it, the better, but it did let me play with Wavne Shorter for the first time and I really liked what he was into." This very tounge-in-cheeck track is available on the album Facets, as well as various Columbia Christmas compilations - so technically not an official standalone album in itself.


Anyone keen to hear this on #christmas day? #jazz #vinyl #satchmo #trad #lp #record

A photo posted by ABC Jazz (@abc_jazz) on Dec 6, 2015 at 3:14pm PST


2. The Stash Christmas Album - Various

This one came out on vinyl in the 80s, and the liner notes appropriately remark that this is "Christmas music with some guts to it." They're pretty spot-on - the compilation features cuts from masters Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller and Paul Whiteman, as well as the usual suspects Satchmo and Ella Fitzgerald. There are some uncommon Christmas tracks on here from the 20s and 30s as well as a few more recent recordings from the 50s. Although the cover is a tad cheesy, it's definately one not to turn your nose up at!


3. Bird At The Roost: The Savoy Years (Vol. 1) - Charlie Parker

Although this one is technically not a Christmas album per se, a number of tracks were recorded on Christmas day in 1948 for a special Christmas morning broadcast at the Royal Roost with Symphony Sid. As it happens, a listener also calls in to request Bird and his quintet to play a festive track. They respond with a swinging version of 'White Christmas.' Our copy (as featured on Thursday Night Live) is on vinyl, but the complete Christmas set has also made it onto CD. It's also our feature on Christmas Eve on Thursday Night Live, December 24.


4. NPR's Jazz Christmas - Marian McPartland

Pianist and broadcaster Marian McPartland ran a very popular show called 'Piano Jazz' on NPR. On the show, which we feature regularly in our Talking Jazz series, she sits down at the piano with various jazz artists to discuss and play both their own tunes and some of their favourite standards. During these recordings, she also took the time to have her guests perform various festive tracks. These records have come out as compilations on NPR, and we're spinning one of them this Christmas. Some of the artists who are featured on it include Brad Mehldau, J. J. Johnson, Nnenna Freelon and George Shearing. Check it out here.


5. Cool Yule - Don Burrows

Here's another one that (we think) is only available on vinyl, released in 1978. The one-and-only Don Burrows with another Australian legend - George Golla (guitar), plus band Tony Ansell (keyboards), Paul Baker (bass) and Paul Jansen (drums). We've copied the ABC Sound Library's copy into the playlist, but it's been spotted more than a few times at the local op-shop record bin. If you stumble across it, definitely have a listen!

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Artist Biography


Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991) was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, together with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, post-bop and jazz...

This entry is from Wikipedia external link, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under CC-BY-SA external link. Visit Miles Davis external link on Wikipedia to correct or update this entry. Any changes made to the Wikipedia article will not be immediately available here. The ABC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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On Nov 24, 2016. 8:54am
ABC Jazz said

Sorry, Derek - not at this time. But we will be programming a bunch of great music in the lead-up to Christmas for the radio.

On Nov 24, 2016. 12:21am
derek gasper said

Any chance of getting a free download of this playlist, please.

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