Tag Archives: holiday music

Sweet Goodies, 2018 Holiday Music Guide

It can be hard to summon up that holiday mojo when the weather’s turned mean, your five year-old won’t wear anything other than the Batman costume he put on for Halloween and the forced merriment of newscasters about the upcoming holiday season makes your teeth hurt.

There’s cookies to be baked, parties to be planned, presents to buy and you’re feeling harassed instead of ho-ho-ho. There’s no use claiming the holidays just sneaked up on you either considering the displays of Christmas decorations hit the shelves about ten minutes after the five year-old slipped on the batsuit. What you need is some holiday music. Good thing we’ve got the rundown on some 2018 playlist holiday treats.

 

William Shatner – Shatner Claus

 

 

I’m not exactly sure you’ll want to start out your foray into the wonderful world of Christmas with William Shatner on his Shatner Claus release (B07HNFZ5LS), even with Brad Paisley’s help on “Blue Christmas” or Joe Louis Walker’s help on “Little Drummer Boy,” but this CD is amusing as hell.

There are little warm fuzzies on this recording unless you plan to pull that Christmas sweater over your head. What Shatner Claus does have is musical masters like Henry Rollins, Rick Wakeman, Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop lending their talents to Mr. Shatner’s interpretation of holiday classics like “Winter Wonderland,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night.” And, I do have to admit that Shatner’s version of “Feliz Navidad” with Dani Bander is a scream.

 

John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

 

Also, out on the pop Christmas scene is John Legend with his A Legendary Christmas (B07JL9P74R) with guest appearances by Stevie Wonder on “What Christmas Means to Me” and Esperanza Spalding on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Snazzy jazzy tracks like “Christmas Time Is Here,” “The Christmas Song” and “Please Come Home for Christmas” have a sweet Nat King Cole feel.

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Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas

 

Even rocker Eric Clapton has got the Christmas spirit with his release Happy Xmas. Clapton offers up tracks like “White Christmas,” “Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday,” “Home for the Holidays,” “Lonesome Christmas” and the bluesy “Merry Christmas Baby.”

 

Putumayo Presents Joy to the World

 

For world music fans there’s Putumayo Presents Joy to the World with sweet little goodies like Nossa Bossa Nova’s “The First Noel,” Frederick de Grandpre’s “Noel Avec Toi,” Jan Luna’s “Winter Wonderland,” Lynn August’s “Christmas by the Bar-B-Que,” The Mighty Diamonds’s “Frosty the Snowman” and Leon Redbone’s “Christmas Island.”

 

Iver Kleive and Knut Reiersrud – Natt i desember (Night in December)

 

One of my favorites has to be Natt i desember (Night in December) by Iver Kleive and Knut Reiersrud from our friends at the Kirkelig Kulturverksted label. Stunning and deeply atmospheric Natti i desember is chocked full of goodies like “A kom, a kom, Immanuel,” “Stille natt,” “A Betlehem, du vesle by” and “Bjelleklang.”

Recorded at the Haderslev Cathedral in Denmark, this recording is a lush listen into some familiar songs of peace and praise of the season by way of a Nordic take.

 

Nicola Porpora – Porpora: Il verbo in carne (Christmas Oratorio

 

Kammerochester Basel offer up the classical recording Porpora: Il verbo in carne (Christmas Oratorio on the Sony Classical label. This Christmas oratorio by Nicola Porpora tells the Christmas story by way of the Chamber Orchestra Basel under the direction of Riccardo Manasi featuring soloists Roberta Invernizzi, Terry Wey and Martin Vanberg.

Listeners looking for a classical take on Christmas and some superb vocalists are sure to enjoy this offering.

 

Squirrel Nut Zippers – Mardi Gras for Christmas

 

Southern Broadcasting has out Mardi Gras for Christmas by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

As a nod to the kickoff of their November 27th Holiday Caravan Tour, two new songs “Mardi Gras for Christmas” and “Alone for Christmas” are available for download as additions to their original 1998 Christmas Caravan recording. Surely “Mardi Gras for Christmas” will have the joint jumping at any holiday party.

 

Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen – Silent Night – Early Christmas Music and Carols

 

Spanish singer and harpist Arianna Savall and Norwegian tenor and violinist Petter Udland Johansen have a sweet holiday recording with Silent Night – Early Christmas Music and Carols out on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label.

Lushly backed by Ms. Savall’s Baroque ensemble Hirundo Maris, this recording is simply lovely with delights like “El Desembre congelat,” “Mitt hjerte alltid vanker,” “Wexford Carol,” “Kling no, klokka,” “Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia” and “Stille Nacht.”

 

 

Greg Herriges, StellaRoma amd friends Revel & Ritual

 

Greg Herriges leads StellaRoma members Michal Bissonnette, Rundio, Pooja Goswami Pavan, Abhinav Sharma and Tatiana Riabokin on their Revel & Ritual. This is truly a recording for all seasons as StellaRoma takes listeners on a journey of holiday music from around the world.

A song for the Hindu Holi Festival of Colors (“Garuda/Khelat Rang Holi) or a song celebrating the Japanese Spring Cherry Blossom Festival (“Sakura, Sakura”) or a song for the Muslim holy day of Ashura (“Ashura”) make this recording delightful.

Fans might want to check out the season appropriate Basque song of the Annunciation “Birjina Gazetto Bat Zegoen,” the traditional Hebrew song “Sevivon, Sov Sov Sov” done up in a neo-Klezmer style or the 16th century Spanish Christmas carol “Foom, Foom, Foom.” There’s also version of a traditional Ukrainian New Year’s song called “Shchedryk.”

 

Yale Strom’s Broken Consort – Shimmering Lights – Hanukkah Music

 

Wanting to cozy up with a little Hanukkah fare this season? Then you’ll definitely want to check out Yale Strom’s Broken Consort: Shimmering Lights – Hanukkah Music.

Available on the ARC Music label, this recording brims over with guitar, oud, violin, viola, cello and contrabass wrapping the mysteries of Hanukkah by way of tracks like “Maoz Tzur,” “Khanike, Oi, Khanike,” “Kita’l Tas,” “Akht Kleyne Brider” and “L’Chvod Chanukah.” This recording is a real treat.

 

Kitka – Evening Star

 

Kitka, the group that turned out goodies like Wintersongs, Voices on the Eastern Wind and Cradle Songs, has on offer this year the recording Evening Star.

As a sequel to theirWintersongs, the glorious voices of Kitka vocally travel from Bulgaria on “Collage of Koleda Carols” to Russia for “Zapovedi blazenstv/The Beatitudes” to Latvia for “Kur bijati ziemassvetki” to Ukraine for “Sco v pana khazjajna.” Taking listeners on a musical journey through Balkan, Slavic and Caucasian regions, Evening Star is holiday celebration, our earthy ancestors calling and a meditation all in one.

Here’s to hoping your holiday sounds are bright.

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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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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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