Tag Archives: Christmas music

2017 Holiday Music Guide

Do you remember last January when you said, “Hey, just throw all them in that big plastic bag,” and the other person did exactly that? Yeah, well it’s that time of year to face that big plastic bag of now knotted Christmas lights because the person responsible didn’t coil them neatly.

Along with the now snake pit of lights, you’ll be facing the endless list making, trying to crowbar out gift ideas from those curmudgeons in your family, preparing the assembly line of Christmas cookies and treats and rummaging through the boxes of last year’s decorations to pluck out the survivors. You know what you need? You need some Christmas music, either to get you in the holiday mood or to drown out the screaming of the person outside who just stapled his or her finger attempting to put up the new strands of lights because the cat has made a bed of the snake pit of old lights. Lucky for you World Music Central has a whole host of new and classic goodies for you to check out for your listening pleasure.

 

Reba McEntire – My Kind of Christmas

 

Looking to having yourself a merry little country Christmas? Well, you might want to check out country queen Reba McEntire’s My Kind of Christmas with tracks like “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Silent Night” with Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood.

Alan Jackson has out this season Let It Be Christmas with a sweetly country version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as well as goodies like “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “White Christmas” and “Silver Bells.”

Nashville session musician and Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy has put out the harmonica happy Classic Country Christmas with offerings like “O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” “Christmas Time Is Here” and “Tender Tennessee Christmas.”

 

Southern Rock Christmas

 

Ready to kick your holiday shindig up a notch or two? Well, you can get yourself a big old helping of 2015’s Southern Rock Christmas with sweet goodies like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by The Artimus Pyle Band, “Merry Christmas Baby” by Point Blank, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Adam Hood, “Christmas Everywhere” by Black Oak Arkansas and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” by the Oak Ridge Boys.

There is also the compilation from Contrast Records called Santa Claus Is From the South with tracks like “Santa Is On His Way” by Bob Willis & His Texas Playboys, “Christmas Time Is A-Coming” by Bill Monroe, “Blue Christmas” by Hank Snow and for those of you remember The Porter Wagoner Show Kenny Roberts with his track “Christmas Roses.”

There’s also Bluegrass powerhouse Balsam Range’s It’s Christmas Time out on the Mountain Home Music Company label. This has got goodies like “Christmas Lullaby,” “The First Noel,” “I’m Going Home, It’s Christmas” and a kicking version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

North Carolina’s Bluegrass group Nu-Blu is ready to swing you into the mood with their digital offering Shine with sparkling little goodies like title track “Shine,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “What Child Is This” and “Mary Did You Know.”

 

Berliner Philharmoniker with Herbert von Karajan on The Christmas Album – Vol. 2

 

For a little loftier fare, the Berliner Philharmoniker with Herbert von Karajan on The Christmas Album – Vol. 2 might just hit that inner holiday spirit in the sweet spot. There are some truly lovely tracks on this recording as in “Corelli: Concerto grosso In G Minor, Op.6, MC 68” Fatto per la Notte di Natalie” -1. Vivace – Grave – Allegro,” “Pachebel: Canon And Gigue In D Major, P 37 – Arr. For Orchestra By Max Seiffert – 1. Canon,” “Torelli: Concerto Grosso In G Minor, Op 8, No. 6 “Christmas Concerto” – 2. Largo,” “Manfredini: Concerto In C, Op 3, No. 12 – “Christmas Concerto: -1. Largo (Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale)” and “Locatelli: Concerto Grosso In F Minor, Op. 1, No. 8 “Christmas Concerto” – 4. Largo Adante.”

The Decca/London label has put out Winter Songs by Ola Gjeilo/Choir of Royal Holloway/12 Ensemble. The goodies on this recording “Ecce Novum,” “Across The Vast, Eternal Sky,” “The Coventry Carol,” “Wintertide” and a sweet little version of “Silent Night.”

There’s also Joyeaux Noel French Christmas Music with Michel Corrette, Pierre Dandrieu, Christian Lambour, La Fantasia and the Arcadia Ensemble with conductors Rien Voskruilen and Kevin Mallon. Tracks include “Te Deum in D Major,” “Dixit Dominus,” “Messe de Minuit Pour Noel, H. 9: I. Kyrie” and Messe de Minuit Pour Noel, H. 9: II Gloria.”

 

Placido Domingo & Friends Celebrate Christmas in Vienna

 

Sony Masterworks has put out Placido Domingo & Friends Celebrate Christmas in Vienna. Listeners get to wallow around in the wonders of Placido Domingo and enjoy tracks like “White Christmas” with Diana Ross, “Carol of the Bells” with Vjekoslav Sutej, Sissel Kyrkjebo, Charles Aznavour and the Wiener Opernkinderchor, “I Wonder As I Wander,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” with Tony Bennett and Vanessa Williams and “Stille Nacht” with Jose Carreras and Diana Ross.

Listeners might want to check out the dulcet Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on their season’s offering Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: Christmas with The Dominican Sisters of Mary. The sweet sisters offer up treats like “Christmas Proclamation,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Emmanuel,” “Adeste Fideles,” “Gabriel’s Message” and “Gaudete” and each is more and more lovely.

And, there’s more. Oh, so much more!

 

Herb Alpert – The Christmas Wish

 

If you were wondering what Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass fame was up to – well, apparently a Christmas CD called simply The Christmas Wish. Ramping up his sound with a 45-piece orchestra, a 10-piece rhythm section and a 32-member choir, Mr. Alpert hits all the right notes with “Medley: Joy to the World/Silver Bells,” “Santa Baby,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and other Christmas classics.

Sony Legacy has dug through its archives and pulled out Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for your listening pleasure. Fans can expect oldies but goodies like “White Christmas,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Blue Christmas,” “The First Noel” and “Silent Night” by The King himself.

 

Smokey Robinson – Christmas Everyday

 

Even Smokey Robinson has succumbed to the pressure of the Christmas album with his first titled Christmas Everyday. Opening the “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” gets with guest artist Trombone Shorty, Christmas Everyday gets the cool treatment with tracks like “This Christmas,” “The Night That Baby Was Born,” “You’re My Present” with The Dap Kings and “O Holy Night” with Take 6.
The ever popular Celtic Woman has put out The Best of Christmas with tracks like “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” and “Once In Royal David’s City.”

The powerhouse band the Sultans of String have put out Christmas Caravan. This is a treasure trove of goodies like “Turkish Greensleeves” with Gundem Yayli Grubu, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” with Mary Fahl, “Flight of Angels/Hark the Hearld” with Chris McKhool and Rebecca Campbell, “Celebrate the Holydays: with Sweet Honey in the Rock, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with Ruben Blades and Luba Mason, “Himalayan Sleigh Ride” with Anwar Khurshid and “Feliz Navidad/Come on People Sing” with Alex Cuba.

David Arkenstone has put out Native Christmas on the Green Hill Productions label. With Native American flute, percussion, guitar and keyboards, Native Christmas is sweetly spare and restful with “Little Drummer Boy,” “We Three Kings,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Snow on the Mesa.”

If the classic pop Christmas is what you’re looking for you might just want to spring for the whole kit and caboodle in the 5-CD box set 100 Hits – Christmas Legends. This box set has it all from Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” to Perry Como’s “Its Beginning to Look a Lost Like Christmas” to Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule.” Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Mario Lanza, Glen Miller and Rosemary Clooney are all assembled her for your holiday pleasure.

The Capitol label has put out A Capitol Christmas Vol. 2 with treats like Glen Campbell’s “Blue Christmas,” The Beach Boys’s “Frosty the Snowman,” Dinah Shore’s “Jingle Bells” and Lena Horne’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

 

Dave Koz & Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas

 

Concord Records has on tap this year Dave Koz & Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas. Joined by David Benoit, Rick Braun and Peter White, Mr. Koz smooths over the holiday edges with cool offerings like “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” “Feliz Navidad” and “The Home Medley: I’ll Be Home for Christmas/Celebrate Me Home.”

For the vinyl junkies out there the label Music on Vinyl has put out the 2-CD set of Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings Christmas. Lush and smooth, Beautiful Day offers up “Sing a Christmas Carol,” “We Three Kings,” “Wencelaus,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “The Beautiful Day.”

The Cleopatra label has Blues Christmas on offer this holiday season. With tracks like Joe Louis Walker’s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year,” Steve Cropper’s “Let’s Make Christmas Merry, Baby,” Kenny Neal’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and Lightnin’ Hopkins’s “Santa” be prepared to have all your low down Christmas needs met.

Finally, I’d like to give a nod to the Contrast Records label. This label has cleverly put out compilation recordings for the holiday season like Dig That Crazy Santa Claus – Classic R & B, Blues for Christmas – Classic R & B/Blues, Santa Claus Is From the South Classic, Boogie Woogie Santa Claus – Classic R & B/Blues and my favorite Christmas in Jail Classic with such goodies as “Christmas Eve Blues” by Blind Lemon Jefferson, “The Wrong Way To Celebrate Xmas” by Edward W. Clayborn (Guitar Evangelist), “Christmas Man Blues” by Bertha Chippie Hill, “Christmas And No Santa Claus” by Bumble Bee Slim and “Christmas Night In Harlem” by Jack Teagarden & Johnny Mercer. This has got to be the coolest way to dig into Christmases past.

So, here’s hoping your holidays are filled with music – lots and lots of music.

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Magical Latin Christmas

Putumayo Presents Latin Christmas

Various Artists – Latin Christmas (Putumayo PUT 363-2, 2016)

Thank you, Dr. Poinsett, for bringing the “Flor de Noche Buena” back to the US from Central America 80 years ago. We now identify it with wonderful Christmas times with loved ones. eight decades ago. As the Hispanic demographic in this country expands, we will see, hear and incorporate a corresponding expansion Latin American Christmas traditions. This holiday anthology on the Putumayo label is a good start.

More than half the songs will be familiar to Anglo ears, but the bossa nova and rumba rhythms and light percussion overlays differentiate them from our old holiday favorites, now sadly more identified with our shopping malls than our homes. World Christmas music such as this collection can become a unique part of your own family memory and tradition. It is refreshing and a pleasure to hear what the tension of Spanish guitar, the strong rhythm of precise horn sections and musical pocket-filling percussion and clear, poignant vocals add to the songs we’ve been humming all our lives, and to add to a holiday music catalog that may have become stale through a lifetime of overplay.

In the hands of these artists from climes much more distant from Santa’s North Pole than ours, the musical imagery becomes more magical. Somehow, the Magis’ journey seems longer and thoughts of a “White Christmas” more fantastic. Hearing an instrumental foundation from less affluent lands, one pictures the joy and merriment of the season coming from time with loved ones rather than with competitive, material gifts. In short, this release is a sure enhancement of the yuletide.

Buy Latin Christmas

Buy Latin Christmas in Europe

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2016 Christmas Music Guide

Perhaps you’ve just ventured to the darkest part of the attic or basement, plucked out those dusty boxes from under the bags of horded, hideous sweaters, checked the boxes for holiday-hating raccoons and hauled the whole lot to the living room. Or perhaps you’ve gathered all your holiday stash from their secret hiding places, found the one roll of tape that doesn’t have cat hair stuck to it and piled the new rolls of wrapping paper along with the remnants from years past onto the dining table. Or maybe you’re just biding your time in between trips to the oven as Christmas cookies bake. What you really need now is some music. Well, maybe you need a little bourbon too, but what you really need some holiday music to build up your morale. Good thing we here at World Music Central have got you covered with our annual Christmas music guide. So, brush the cobwebs from your hair, get someone to grab the “good” scissors, pop a few chocolate chips and let’s get you some holiday tunes.

You know how just about every musician and singer puts out at least one Christmas album? Yeah, well, this year Neil Diamond has put out Acoustic Christmas (ASIN: B01MAZIGZQ ), Jimmy Buffett has ‘Tis the SeaSon available and Frankie Valli has put out his own tribute to Christmas this year with ‘Tis the Seasons (ASIN: B01LYUABCJ) . Unless you are a big fan of Diamond, Buffett or Valli, I think it’s safe to take a pass on these offerings because none really are all that likely to wrap you in holiday warmth. I’d be interested in having a list of popular artists who haven’t done a Christmas song or album.

Of course, if you’d like to experience a diabetic coma you might want to download a copy of Friendship Is Magic: It’s a Pony Kind of Christmas by My Little Pony (ASIN: B01LQC4UPG). My advice? Run, run away quickly because there’s not enough bourbon, vodka or a round of ayahuasca with an Amazonian shaman and an out of body experience that’s ever going to erase this from your mind once you’ve heard it. I guess you could give it to folks who have kids, but you’d really have to hate them or desire to completely cut ties with these people. I don’t think the International Criminal Court has heard this particular recording, but I’m fairly certain it should be classified as a crime against humanity.

Gene Autry – A Melody Ranch Christmas Party

If you are feeling particularly nostalgic and miss those ole time classics, there’s A Melody Ranch Christmas Party by Gene Autry with standards “Jingle Bells,” “Here Comes Santa Claus & Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Medley” and “Cowboy Santa Claus” to round out this tribute to the cowboy crooner. This offering means that you can put the 2013 Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas from Captain Kangaroo by Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans and give the track “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” a rest this year.

If you’re looking to jazz up your holidays Verve has Joyful Jazz! Christmas With Verve, Vol. 1: The Vocalists with tracks by Nora Jones, Diana Krall and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as Joyful Jazz! Christmas With Verve, Vol. 2: The Instrumentals with tracks by Mark Whitfield, Oscar Peterson Quartet and The John Coltrane Quartet.

Andra Day - Merry Christmas from Andra Day
Andra Day – Merry Christmas from Andra Day

Warner Brothers/Buskin has on tap this year Merry Christmas from Andra Day with “Someday at Christmas” with Stevie Wonder, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Winter Wonderland.” Holiday Soul on the Prestige label by the jazz pianist and composer Bobby Timmons is all cool Christmas with goodies like “Deck the Halls,” “White Christmas” and “You’re All I Want for Christmas.” Okeh/Sony Masterworks kicks the holiday humdrum with The Beautiful Day with goodies like “Star of Wonder,” “The Michigan Farm (Cradle Song, Op. 41/1)” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

Sarah McLachlan - Wonderland
Sarah McLachlan – Wonderland

Those hoping to burrow into a little country Christmas have plenty to choose from with offerings like Sarah McLachlan’s Wonderland with tracks “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain” or Trisha Yearwood’s Icon Christmas on the MCA Nashville label or Jennifer Nettles’s sassy To Celebrate Christmas with her own version of “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with Andra Day and “Little Drummer Boy” with Idina Menzel. Atlantic Nashville has this year Brett Eldredge’s Glow with a big band backing the singer. Rascal Flatts has put out The Greatest Gift of All, while Mercury Nashville has on offer A Very Kacey Christmas by Kacey Musgraves with tracks like “Let It Snow” with the Quebe Sisters, “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and “Present Without a Bow” with Leon Bridges.

Ray Conniff - The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings
Ray Conniff – The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings

Classic Christmas songs are fine idea for drowning out those political warthogs at your parties and there’s some goodies out there like The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings by Ray Conniff. Two CDs, 31 tracks and freshly remastered, you won’t have to hear about the 2016 election for a good while with classics like “Sleigh Ride,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “My Favorite Things” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” There’s also NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmas. Ignore the cheesy cover and the Justin Bieber track, because there are some legitimate lovelies on this like “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Johnny Mathis and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” by Dean Martin.

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy - A Celtic Family Christmas
Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy – A Celtic Family Christmas

Whipping a bit of world music mystery this holiday season, fans might want to take a listen to tracks like “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Medley” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on A Celtic Family Christmas by Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. This year there is also Winter Fantasy by Charlee Brooks and David Arkenstone with goodies like “The First Noel,” “Noel Nouvelet” and “The Darkest Midnight In December.” The Steel Tropics have put out the Caribbean sounding collection Christmas Paradise with offerings like “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

Cara Dillon - Upon a Winter’s Night
Cara Dillon – Upon a Winter’s Night

Some other goodies include Putumayo Presents Latin Christmas with tracks like Bobby Rodriguez’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” Juan Carlos Quintero’s “Jingle Bells” and Nossa Bossa Nova’s “Joy to the World.” Irish folk singer Cara Dillon has a lovely CD out called Upon a Winter’s Night with some yummy tracks like “Upon a Winter’s Night,” “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia,”

Please remember to be respectful this holiday season and those of you playing 2012’s A Heavy Metal Christmas (ASIN: B0189CFLWW) with Christopher Lee (yes, that Christopher Lee) or any of the selections from 2015’s Goth Christmas (ASIN: B017BNCXNU) to please try to not scare the native too much.

Happy Listening.

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2011 Holiday Music

Willie Colón - Asalto Navideño
For a spicy holiday splash check out Asalto Navideño by Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe digitally remastered on the Fania label. This tropical holiday fare offers some of Puerto Rico’s favorite Christmas songs and is sure to warm up any Christmas party.

The Texas-based singer/songwriter Cas Haley’s EP Gifts to Give, out on the Easy Star Records, offers up some festive holiday delights tinged with a little sassy Texas swing. Haley serves up “Let It Snow,” “The Christmas Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and an original song for your holiday fun.

Putumayo has collected holiday classic songs from Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and the United States for its Celtic Christmas release. With The Albion Christmas Band, Charles T. Cozen, DruidStones, Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola and Dougie MacLean offering Celtic-inspired Christmas classics like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Good King Wenceslas,” as well as the Gaelic version of “White Christmas” or “Nollaig Bhan.”

Peter, Paul and Mary - The Holiday Concert
Folk fans might want to check out the DVD version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s famed “Holiday Concert.” With VHS out of print, this DVD release is a welcomed offering of the 1981 New York Choral Society benefit concert with all the familiar trio’s favorites like “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “This Land is Your Land,” as well as a wealth of Christmas and Hanukkah songs and carols.

The Norwegian-Irish duo Secret Garden has put out Winter Poem on the Valley/Hearts of Space Records. Backed by the Czech National Symphony, Secret Garden pulls out all the stops with guest vocalists like Clannad’s Moya Brennan, Fionnuala Gill, Espen Grjotheim and Tracey Campbell for wealth of music that will warm up the winter and any holiday party.

Sweden’s Malou Berg has released her Christmas inspired album Breathe Out. Vocally dipping into English, Swedish and her own Pleiadian language, Ms. Berg’s musical vision of Christmas is all about peace and gentle joy. Fans get some reworked tracks from Hoya, Omine and others wrapped up with a whole host of guitars, strings and harps.

For a little more traditional fare, the men’s vocal ensemble Cantus has just released Christmas with Cantus. Fans get a stunning collection of tracks that include “Nowell!Nowell” This is the Salutacion,” “’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” and “Ave Maria.” The impossibly rich, warm tapestry of vocals of Cantus make this holiday music release a real treat.

Fiddler Craig Duncan’s Irish Country Christmas on the Green Hill label is all Celtic charmer with a collection of familiar holiday tunes like “Jingle Bells,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.” Sweet and lovely this instrumental recording is all about the bright in this holiday season.

Sing Noel: A European Christmas Revels offers up choral pieces and carols from England, France, the Middle East and Spain. With a whole host of chorus groups from around the world, music fans can get a taste of holiday season with a theatrical flare.

Dino Saluzzi - Navidad De Los Andes
Epic has on A Creole Christmas on tap for music fans. With Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and Aaron Neville offering such hits as “Please Come Home for Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Merry Christmas Baby” music fans get a healthy dose of New Orleans for the holidays and what a treat!

Finally, Navidad de los Andes, with bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi, violoncellist Anja Lechner and clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Felix Saluzzi out on the ECM label, provides a twist to the idea of holiday music. This stunning music is resides in the magical in between land where classical, jazz, tango and chamber music meet. Artful, emotional and poignant, Navidad de los Andes offers listeners a classically inspired look into Argentine and South American music for the long winter.

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