Various Artists: Jingle Bell Jazz

The Songs:

  1. Jingle Bells (Duke Ellington)
  2. White Christmas (Lionel Hampton)
  3. Winter Wonderland (Chico Hamilton)
  4. The Christmas Song (Carmen McRae)
  5. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Pony Poindexter)
  6. We Three Kings Of Orient Are (Paul Horn)
  7. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Dave Brubeck Quartet)
  8. Deck Us All With Boston Charlie (Lambert, Hendricks & Ross)
  9. Frosty The Snowman (The Dukes Of Dixieland)
  10. If I Were A Bell (The Manhattan Jazz All-Stars)
  11. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (Marlowe Morris)
  12. Blue Xmas (Miles Davis)

1962 saw the release of this fine Christmas compilation by some of Columbia Records biggest jazz artists at the time, including Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, and Miles Davis. While there are great performances all around, Pony Poindexter’s Rudolph and Deck Us All With Boston Charlie by the vocal supergroup Lambert, Hendricks & Ross (with the Ike Isaacs Trio) are hilarious send-ups with tongue firmly planted-in-cheek. The notoriously “cool” Miles Davis contributes the most untraditional cut to the album, Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern), with vocals by composer Bob Dorough, (later famous for writing music and lyrics for several “Schoolhouse Rock” segments, such as Conjunction Junction, as well as providing vocals on many of them, such as Three Is A Magic Number). It features an arrangement by Gil Evans and is the first recordings of Miles with Wayne Shorter, even before the formation of the “Second Great Quintet”.

1980 Vinyl Reissue

The album has a convoluted release history. A 1973 edition on the Harmony subsidiary label is truncated down to 9 of the original tracks and substitutes in a new track, Deck The Halls, by Herbie Hancock with Chick Corea. Columbia reissued the album in 1980, restoring it to its original 12 track format, but replacing the Dukes of Dixieland’s Frosty with the Hancock/Corea track. When CBS/Sony finally issued the album on CD, they combined it with another album, God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen.

1990 CD Version

In order to make room on the disc, they eliminated 4 tracks from the 1980 edition, as well as omitting the Dukes of Dixieland track. Sadly, the original album remains unissued. Some tracks can also be found on the albums, Jingle Bell Swing and Hipster’s Holiday. Until Sony decides to release the original album (and hopefully with the Hancock/Corea track added as a bonus), the 8 track edition with the 6 tracks from God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen will have to suffice. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Viewing:

Scrooged. (The movie includes cameo appearances as street carolers by Miles Davis, Paul Schaffer, David Sanborn, and Larry Carlton. The same group appears on the soundtrack, playing We Three Kings of Orient Are).