- I'll Be Home for Christmas
- Silver Bells
- All I Want for Christmas Is You
- My Favorite Things
- Christmas Time Is Here
- Winter Wonderland
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
- I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Duet With Antonia Bennett)
- The Christmas Waltz
- O Christmas Tree
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Christmas is a time for many things, but musically, the favorite always seems to be lowered standards. Too many times, bands or vocalists trot out the usual chestnuts with few acknowledgements of their usual artistic capabilities. How nice, then, to find Tony Bennett continuing to exercise his high quality control with 2008's A Swingin' Christmas, featuring the Count Basie Big Band. The excellence on display begins with the charts, which on the big-band sides come mostly from Bill Holman -- along with a beautiful arrangement on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" from the dearly departed Frank Foster (long a linchpin for the Basie band). Holman's great accomplishment here is to treat standards -- like "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "My Favorite Things" -- as though they were ripe for the reimagining (which, of course, they are). Producer Phil Ramone balances the accompaniment well, moving from small group to big band with no speed bumps, and the basic quartet is anchored by pianist Monty Alexander (who Bennett thanks "for sitting in and playing in a Basie style"). Although Bennett's voice shows increasing signs of age here, his interpretive gifts are untouched and unimpeachable, especially when the material calls for sensitivity (the closing "O Christmas Tree," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas").
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