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Various Artists: 'Jingle Bell Jazz'

Cover of Jingle Bell Jazz

MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Christmas time gives us an opportunity to add another CD to your NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. With A.B. Spellman, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Just because a CD is a survey of Christmas music, it doesn't mean that it can't have great music. A.B., the Columbia anthology Jingle Bell Jazz is strong enough to enter our Basic Jazz Record Library on strictly musical grounds.

[MUSIC]

A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: The roster of artists on this CD is definitely all-star. We just heard Dexter Gordon playing, and playing beautifully. McCoy Tyner, Paquito D'Rivera, Duke Ellington, Carmen McCrae, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock are just some of the performers who are at the top of their form on this record.

HORWITZ: They are, and the fact that the choices are so good, it's hard to decide what to sample. Let's try McCoy Tyner wrapping up "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

[MUSIC]

SPELLMAN: You can tell, Murray, that McCoy took this hopeful ballad of wartime absence seriously. His version moves from languid lyricism to intense passion. It's a concerto of crescendo and release.

[MUSIC]

HORWITZ: You know, for me, Carmen McCrae's version of "The Christmas Song" ranks just below Nat Cole's definitive interpretation. It has that warm and toasty "bare skin on the living room floor" quality that this song really requires.

[MUSIC]

HORWITZ: Altogether, a very strong anthology. It's called Jingle Bell Jazz, and it's a Columbia CD. For information about this and other selections, visit our Web site. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

SPELLMAN: And, I'm A.B. Spellman.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A. B. Spellman
Murray Horwitz