GRD-9796 The Joy of Christmas
Reissue compilation produced by Carl Griffin & Bud Katzel
Released on September 1, 1994
Find it at GEMM
GRD-9796 cover
[high resolution scan]

A lready, Christmas music is beginning to rot your brain. The same trite melodies sung by cheerfully bland voices, permeating your very bone through the Stepford airwaves. Regrettably, in two weeks time, we’ll all probably be one Mariah Carey’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” away from running through the mall naked and slapping people on the head with an Elmo doll, so for our collective sanity I offer an alternative: Christmas jazz music. The smart folks at GRP put together a swingin’ collection of holiday tunes from the 50s and 60s featuring Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ramsey Lewis and others--just the sort of thing to help you keep your cool through the yule. Not everything here is jazz, “What A Wonderful World” isn’t even a Christmas song, but the mix of traditional classics (Mel Torme, Peggy Lee) and inventive interpretations (Duke Ellington, Kenny Burrell) is a welcome respite from the ordinary. However, this is ultimately product, albeit of a higher order than some Christmas compilations. All of the material that appears here has appeared elsewhere in the past on albums, singles, other Christmas collections. And despite the claim of digital mastering, there’s only so much you can do with scratchy tapes from the 1950s. Chances are you’ve heard “The Christmas Song” a hundred times, half of them sung by Torme himself, yet this live version from 1955 is an early and intimate look at a classic in the making. And I’ll warrant you’ve never heard Ahmad Jamal’s “Snowfall,” nor will you soon forget it. Ultimately, The Joys of Christmas Past is a healthy supplement to a holiday diet of Bing, Burl and Elvis and a good way to work some real (in many cases, real old) jazz into the mix.


  1. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD >> LOUIS ARMSTRONG    (George David Weiss/Bob Thiele)    2:18
  2. LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW >> LES BROWN    (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne)    2:37
  3. THE CHRISTMAS SONG >> MEL TORME    (Mel Torme/Robert Wells)    3:04
  4. WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR'S EVE? >> RAMSEY LEWIS    (Frank Loesser)    3:28
  5. RING THOSE CHRISTMAS BELLS >> PEGGY LEE    (Marvin Fisher/Gus Levine)    2:19
  6. LITTLE DRUMMER BOY >> KENNY BURRELL    (Katherine Davis/Henry Onorati/Harry Simeone)    3;32
  7. CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS >> LOUIS ARMSTRONG    (Richard M. Sherman/Joe Van Winkle)    2:53
  8. SNOWFALL >> AHMAD JAMAL    (Claude Thornhill/Ruth Thornhill)    2:37
  9. SILENT NIGHT >> AL HIBBLER    (Joseph Mohr/Franz Gruber)    2:28
  10. TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS >> RAMSEY LEWIS    (traditional)    2:22
  12. SLEIGH RIDE >> SOULFUL STRINGS    (Leroy Anderson)    2:44
  13. PEACE ON EARTH/SILENT NIGHT >> PEGGY LEE    (traditional)    3:11
  14. CHRISTMAS BLUES >> RAMSEY LEWIS    (Skitch Henderson)    2:48
  15. SWINGIN' FOR CHRISTMAS >> GENE AMMONS    (Tom Archia)    2:10
  16. CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN HARLEM >> LOUIS ARMSTRONG    (Mitchell Parish/Raymond Scott)    2:39


Bud Katzel -- project director for GRP
Michael landy -- digital editing
Cara Bridgins -- GRP production coordinator
Joseph Moore -- GRP production coordinator assistant
Sonny Mediana -- GRP production director
Lilian Barbuti -- GRP production director assistant
Andy Baltimore -- GRP creative director
Freddie Paloma -- front cover art, graphic design
Dan Serrano -- art direction
Hollis King -- art direction
Alba Acevedo -- graphic design
Laurie Goldman -- graphic design

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US September 1, 1994 GRP CD GRD-9796  


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