20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Christmas Jazz, Vol. 1
Traditional jazz musicians have long made it a practice to use pop standards as the vehicles for their improvisations, and, as this discount-priced collection demonstrates, that is just as valid a device if the standards are holiday songs. Here, pianists Ramsey Lewis, Bill Evans, and Oscar Peterson, guitarist Kenny Burrell, and organist Jimmy Smith all give characteristic interpretations of familiar Christmas material. The other half of the ten selections is devoted to singers, with Ella Fitzgerald making "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" her own ("Hang your nose down, Rudy"); Louis Armstrong mugging his way through "'Zat You, Santa Claus?"; and Mel Tormé contributing his version of the seasonal evergreen he composed himself, "The Christmas Song." Joe Williams and Dinah Washington also turn in typical performances.