Various Artists – Blues, Blues Christmas Volume 3 – 1927-1962
CD 1: 20 songs; 50:24 Minutes
CD 2: 20 songs; 52:34 Minutes
Styles: Blues, Jazz, Do-Wop, Rockabilly, and Gospel
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for blues music, of course! The UK’s Document Records knows this well, and that’s why they’ve extracted forty festive favorites from their vaults. They span the years 1927 to 1962, featuring artists from John Lee Hooker and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter to Ella Fitzgerald and Victoria Spivey. Blues is not the only genre of music that is performed here: there are jazz, do-wop, rockabilly, gospel and even a couple of fiery Christmas sermons by the Reverend J.M. Gates. The most delightful of these Yuletide offerings are “The Holy Baby” by the magnificent Magnolia Five, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan’s sultry rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and Hop Wilson’s pure-blues masterpiece “Merry Christmas Darling.” Also, who knew that the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker” could be such a spectacular jazz number? Duke Ellington and his orchestra accomplish this unique feat on track four of the second CD.
Those who are fans of traditional carols might be disappointed that both Frosty and Rudolph are absent from this collection, but the peppy originals more than make up for this slight deficit. As if the songs weren’t fantastic enough, this compilation includes a 20-page booklet with explanatory notes and accompanying photographs. A pithy poem from Bessie Smith in the liner notes sums up this reference-quality collection: “Hooray for Christmas! Christmas comes but once a year, and to me it brings good cheer, and to everyone who likes wine and beer. Happy New Year is after that; happy I’ll be, that is a fact. That is why I like to hear, folks I say that Christmas is here.”