The Christmas season is drawing closer, and holiday shoppers will be hearing favorite Christmas songs in every store during their shopping expeditions. Some all-time favorite albums are holiday jazz music that has stood the test of time. For those looking for the best Christmas jazz albums, they can’t go wrong with any from the following list.
1. Sam Fazio’s “Swingin’ thru the Holidays”
Sam Fazio is a well-known jazz singer from Chicago, and each of these holiday classics are performed with the swing rhythms that reflect the style and history of Chicago jazz. Some of the most talented musicians in this jazz style accompany Fazio, including Bob Rummage, Chris White, Victor Garcia, Joe Policastro, and Ewa Sarota-Raczek. Track lists and ordering details can be found at samfaziomusic.com.
2. The Count Basie Orchestra’s “A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!”
Even people who aren’t that familiar with jazz have likely heard of Count Basie as one of the most famous swing jazz musicians of the past two centuries. More than three decades after he passed away, Basie’s holiday jazz album remains one of the top sellers every Christmas season. The backing band is excellent at blending swing and blues influences into every holiday classic, and some of the most recognizable songs from this album include:
– “The Christmas Song”
– “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”
– “It’s the Holiday Season”
Another recognizable name on this famous album is Johnny Mathis, who performs on “It’s the Holiday Season.” The Count Basie Orchestra recorded this album under the direction of then well-known jazz producer Scotty Barnhart, and every holiday song cover has the same joyous, festive sound that’s just as popular today.
3. Johnny Summers’ “When It’s Christmas Time”
This album isn’t quite as well-known as those more famous ones by Johnny Mathis or Count Basie, and its fans often refer to it as an undiscovered gem. The big band sound comes from the Calgary Jazz Orchestra, and many Christmas favorites are given an even richer sound by guest string musicians. Johnny Summers provides both vocals and leading trumpet in the true big band tradition. This album can be ordered from major online retailers or from Summers’ record company Summertime Music.
4.”Joyful Jazz” by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra
When most jazz aficionados are asked to name the cities with the richest histories of this genre, they’re likely to list New Orleans, New York, and Chicago. Pittsburgh is a lesser known but excellent center for jazz performances as well, and this holiday album is the perfect example. The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra puts a rich and festive sound into every Christmas song on this album, and some fan favorite tracks are:
– “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
– “Carol of Bells”
– “Jingle Bells”
Reviews of this album call it an uplifting holiday season jazz offering that’s well worth adding to anyone’s Christmas music collection. Well-known Pittsburgh jazz reedist Mike Tomaro put together most of the orchestral arrangements, and the recording was directed with assistance from the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra’s lead trumpter Sean Jones.
5.”Big Band Holidays” by the Lincoln Center Orchestra
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has been called one of the most renowned large jazz ensembles, and this holiday album makes it easy to see why. Wynton Marshalls serves as lead trumpeter and had a hand in producing each holiday song recording on this album. He led the ensemble through a series of stirring, joyful covers that were recorded live at Lincoln Center between 2012 and 2014. Each one captures the excellent playing skill of each musician, and “Big Band Holidays” is considered a must for every big band jazz fan’s music collection.
6. “Sounds of Christmas” by Ramsey Lewis
This Christmas album was recorded back in 1961, and it’s only about 30 minutes long. Jazz fans says it’s 30 minutes of joyful holiday music that’s well worth that half an hour. Each song was recorded by the jazz trio of Ramsey Lewis, Red Holt, and Eldee Young. “Sounds of Christmas” has garnered a great deal of praise over the years for its beautiful, uplifting sound. One favorite track among fans is “The Christmas Song,” which many jazz lovers say makes this album a must for this upcoming holiday season.