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Various Artists

Santa Swings...The Windup: 27 Christmas Stockings Full Of Shellac Dust

Review by Gary Hill

This collection of music from the 1930s and 40s era of jazz focuses on holiday music that's often overlooked in collections like this. It's a solid set that has some tracks that shine brighter than others. Still, that's true of just about any anthology. Some of the star here include Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Glenn Miller. Not everything here feels all that holiday-like, but everything has its charms.

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Track by Track Review
Louis Prima Orch. - What Will Santa Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')
There is some killer old-school jazz on the menu here. This is a lot of fun.
Bob Crosby's Bob Cats - Blow Blow Thou Winter Winds
I'm not as taken with this song. The vocals don't seem as joyful. The music really grooves, though.  
The Ramblers - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
This rendition of the classic tune is so much fun. This is a highlight of the set for me.
Louis Armstrong Orch. - I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
You can't argue with Louis Armstrong. He's one of the legendary performers, and this old school jazz groove is just what you'd expect from him.
Count Basie Orch. - And The Angels Sing
Count Basie is another of the greats. This instrumental piece really lives up to the quality I've come to expect from the master. The recording quality isn't the best here, but it's not troublesome enough to get in the way of the enjoyment.
Monette Moore - Peace Sister Peace
This has a good groove, but it's not really one of my favorites here. The vocal arrangement doesn't work that well for me.   
Glenn Miller Orch.- Jingle Bells (Chesterfield Broadcast)
When you know it's Glenn Miller, you expect a fun tune. This fits the bill.
Charlie Barnet Orch.- Ring Dem Bells
Energetic and grooving, this really swings with style. It's a classy instrumental.
Paul Whiteman Orch.- Christmas Night In Harlem
There is a musical theater vibe to this cut. I'm not overly crazy about this one. Then again, I'm not a fan of musical theater.
Johnny Guarnieri with Slam Stewart - Santa's Secret
This seems sort of silly. It's a drug related number. It's a lot of fun.
Chick Webb Orch.- There's Frost On The Moon
One half of the vocal duet on this is none other than Ella Fitzgerald. This is another classy old-school jazz tune.
Louis Armstrong Orch.- Snow Ball
The maestro is back here. This is a slower, bluesy kind of tune. The instrumental work is top-notch, but so is everything about this song.
Putney Dandridge Orch.- Santa Claus Came In The Spring
Starting with a bit of piano, this works out to a bouncy jazz romp from there.
Jan Savitt Orch.- And The Angels Sing
More classy old-time jazz is on the menu here. This is bouncy and classy. I'm not all that crazy about the vocals here, though. They are too restrained and vanilla.
Jimmy Ray Orch.- I Told Santa To Bring Me You
This is a fun romp. It's one of the standout tracks on this collection for me.
Stew Pletcher Orch.- I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
I really like the bluesy jazz instrumental motif that makes up the bulk of this. The vocals don't work as well for me.   
Joe Turner and his Memphis Men - Freeze And Melt
Playful old-time jazz is on the menu here. This is another that's particularly entertaining.
Bob Chester Orch.- Winter Weather
There is a lot of groove and style on this classy old-school jazz romp.        
Teddy Wilson Orch.- Sugar Plum
Bouncy and fun, this instrumental is another winner.    
Alvino Rey Orch.- Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
A vocal introduction gets things going here. They launch into an instrumental groove from there. The vocals return after a while. This is an odd tune that seems to have some real problems in terms of recording quality. I think that perhaps this should have been left off the disc.
Ray McKinley Orch.- Little Jack Frost Gets Lost
Now, this energetic and playful romp is so much fun.
John Kirby Orch.- Bounce Of The Sugar Plum Fairy
This instrumental brings some intriguing jazz stylings to the classic number.          
Vincent Lopez Orch.- - (You're Just) As Cute As Christmas
Swinging jazz drives this number with style and charm. I'm not crazy about the vocals. The musicians really shine on the instrumental parts, though.    
Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys - Robins And Roses
Piano gets things going here. The cut works out from there with a lot of old-school class. The violin work later is so strong. The whole track is  good time.
Ella Logan - Jingle (Bingle) Bells
A more traditional take on a holiday classic, this is energized and a lot of fun. I'm not completely sold on the vocals, though.
Don Redman Orch.- Auld Lang Syne
I like this energetic jazz romp a lot. It's so much fun.               
Joel Cowan and Thornel Swartz - Bells Of Auld Lang Syne
This guitar-heavy number is fun. It's a good way to close the disc in style.



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