Russell Fox has posted his list of essential Christmas CDs and issued a challenge for others to share their lists.
Though I like diversity in my Christmas music, I've decided to restrict this to jazz CDs and only those by a single artist. There are some great compilations done by labels, but there is a special challenge in putting together an entire album of Christmas music. ( On another day, I might classify the great Christmas albums by Bela Fleck and Brian Setzer as jazz, but the narrow definition gives me a post for holiday season 2010.)
Wynton Marsalis Crescent City Christmas. This is a classic. On LP, there is a secular side and a religious side. That's lost on CD. Wynton does some great playing and the ensemble and arrangements swing. His 2009 Christmas Jazz Jam is something I'd like to hear, but it's available only at Target and iTunes.)
Joe Pass Six String Santa Joe's late 1990s working quartet, plus a few solo pieces. Enjoyable anytime of the year.
Kenn Burrell, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Burrell was the definition of a soulful guitarist. Nice horn arrangements, but KB is the star. Originally released in 1966 for Cadet, the jazz imprint of Chess.
Jimmy Smith Christmas '64 It is only a slight exaggeration to claim that Jimmy Smith invented the Hammond B-3 organ. There's a version entitled Christmas Cooking that has two extra cuts. One highlight is "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Wes Montgomery.
Gerry Beaudoin A Sentimental Christmas
Tuck Andress, Hymns, Carols, and Songs About Christmas
Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You A Swingin' Christmas
Etta James Twelve Songs of Christmas
Eric Reed Merry Magic
Chet Baker, Silent Nights
An Oscar Peterson Christmas
Al Grey, Christmas Stockin' Stuffer Jazz trombonist set features two humurous tunes with vocalist Jon Hendricks.
Dianna Krall, Christmas Songs
Carla Bley Carla's Christmas Carols. new in 2009. really exquisite arrangements for a small group. Allmusic.com says
This may be the Christmas recording of 2009. Bley's arrangements are both elegant and sometimes quirky, but always engaging and fun, and show a complete love of the original material. ...While the argument that there should be a moratorium on Christmas recordings is a good one in the 21st century, Carla's Christmas Carols provides a powerful counter to that view. She has added so much to these songs without taking away any of the warmth, joy, and nostalgia inherent to the season or their place in it.