Five Hours of Christmas Jazz, Blues and Swing

Santas US MailbagWelcoming Christmas in Jazz and Blues music is a tradition as old as the music itself. By the mid-1920s seasonal music was available on record, such as Bessie Smith’s “Christmas Ball Blues,” 1925. Swing, Big Band and Jazz treatments of carols by the likes of Fats Waller, John Kirby, Benny Carter, Jack Teagarden, Louis Prima and Benny Goodman are plentiful.

Duke Ellington began recording holiday fare in the late 1940s. His 1960 transcription of Peter Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is masterful. The perennial Nutcracker translates well in general to Big Band orchestras, Gypsy Swing or Classic Jazz. In recent decades accomplished Christmas albums have issued by such talented performers as The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Asylum Street Spankers, the late Leon Redbone, and even jazz mandolin player David Grisman,

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

Singer, bandleader and songwriter Dan Hicks hosted an annual series of Christmas Jug Bands for decades. His rollicking ensembles offered clever holiday fare and original tunes. The Jug Band performed twisted Christmas lyrics and carols on several albums — Crazy for Christmas, Rhythm on the Roof, Christmas Everywhere, Uncorked and Tree-Side Hoot.

You may note that the music divides into two broad categories. First are Jazz adaptations of traditional Christmas carols and Popular seasonal songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Let it Snow.” The second group is a rich vein of newly created Jazz and Blues-oriented Christmas songs — and a subcategory in which new lyrics are sets to familiar melodies, like Dan Hicks’ droll Christmas ditties based on “The Sheik” or “Exactly Like You.”

Comical songs about Santa Claus, Kris Kringle or Saint Nicholas are plentiful, often delivered in lively two-beat, four-beat, cut-time or mambo rhythm. Santa is implored to return lovers, deliver a wedding ring or gift to Pearl Bailey her annual five-pound box of money.

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

From time beyond memory, we have gathered at the Winter solstice. When the days are shortest, and nights the longest we rejoice and celebrate our bonds of faith, family and community. God bless us, one and all.

Note: The programs offered below originally aired on the syndicated JAZZ RHYTHM radio series between 2000-2012 and are also found at the JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas Jazz  page. Each one-hour program is broken into two parts for quick streaming.

2012

Highlighted are clever and elegant transcriptions of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington and The Hot Club of San Francisco. Also featured is Hokum from Dan Hicks, Classic Jazz by The New Black Eagle Jazz Band and the enchanting Japanese vocal and ukulele duo, Petty Booka.

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_1 

DJINGLE BELLS — Hot Club of San Francisco, 2009
SANTA AS SEEN ON TV — The [Dan Hicks] Christmas Jug Band, 1991
COOL YULE — Hot Club of San Francisco, 2009
FIVE POUND BOX OF MONEY — Pearl Bailey, c. 1958
CHRISTMAS ISLAND — Ella Fitzgerald, 1960
WINTER WONDERLAND — Lavay Smith, 2000
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN — Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996
OVERTURE — Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1960
DANCE OF REED PIPES — Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1960
SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN [excerpt] — Hot Club of San Francisco, 2009
JINGLE BELL ROCK — New Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_2 

SUGAR RUM CHERRY — Hot Club of San Francisco, 2009
ENTR’ACTE — Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1960
DANSE OF THE FLOREADORES — Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra, 1960
WHITE CHRISTMAS — New Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996
RUDOLF THE RED-NOSED REINDEER — Petty Booka, 2003
RUN, RUN RUDOLF — Dan Hicks Christmas Jug Band, 2010
HEY SANTA — The [Dan Hicks] Christmas Jug Band, 2002
JINGLE BELLS — Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra, 2000

Santa and Lucy2006

Featuring original tunes written for the winter holidays played as Jazz, Blues or Swing. Carols and Popular Christmas fare is performed by the Dan Hicks Christmas Jug Band, Fats Waller, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Louis Armstrong. The vocal stylings of the harmony quartet, Tonic Vintage Vocals from their album, It Ain’t Over ‘til the Fat Man Sings, are charming.

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_3

SLEIGH RIDE — Squirrel Nut Zippers, 1998
WINTER WONDERLAND — Ray Gelato, 2000
WHAT WILL SANTA CLAUS SAY? (When he Finds Everybody Swingin’) — Louis Prima, 1936
THE HOLIDAY SEASON — Tonic Vintage Vocals, 2005
I KNOW WHAT I’M GETTING FOR CHRISTMAS) — Dan Hicks’ Christmas Jug Band, 1997
THE JOINT IS JUMPIN (Christmas version) — Tonic Vintage Vocals, 2005
COOL YULE — Louis Armstrong and the Commanders, 1953
WE WANT TO SEE SANTA DO THE MAMBO — Big John Greer, 1954
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN — Tonic Vintage Vocals, 2005
MISTLETOE MAMBO — Michael Andrew and Swingerhead, 2000
JOY TO THE WORLD — The World’s Greatest Jazz Band, 1972

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_4

BOOGIE WOOGIE SANTA CLAUS — Mabel Scott, 1948
‘ZAT YOU SANTA CLAUS — Louis Armstrong and the Commanders, 1953
SANTA BABY — Eartha Kitt, 1953
MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY — Charles Brown, 1961
MR. SANTA — Dan Hicks’ Christmas Jug Band, 1997
MY REINDEER DON’T LIKE TO FLY — Sue Keller, 2004
HOT CHRISTMAS — Squirrel Nut Zippers, 1998
SWINGIN’ THEM JINGLE BELLS — Fats Waller and his Rhythm, 1936

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

2003

Classy performances of Christmas Jazz, Novelties and Swing from 1941 to 2000. Music includes jumping Christmas novelties, the fine Swing Orchestra of Bill Elliot and gifts from Satchmo, Julia Lee, Lionel Hampton and Louis Jordan. Bob Dorough’s “Blue Xmas” remains a pungent critique of the shallow sentiments and commercialism surrounding the holiday that became too big to fail.

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_5

EGG NOG — Casey McGill and the Sprits of Rhythm, 2000
BOUNCE OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY — John Kirby Sextet, 1941
SANTA CLAUS CAME IN THE SPRING — Benny Goodman, 1935
JINGLE BELLS — Bill Elliott Swing Band, 2000
CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN HARLEM — Louis Armstrong, 1955
SANTA CLAUS, SANTA CLAUS — Louis Jordan, 1950s
CAROLINA CHRISTMAS — Squirrel Nut Zippers, 1998
BOOGIE WOOGIE SANTA CLAUS — Lionel Hampton, 1950
CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS — Louis Armstrong, 1955
LET IT SNOW — Leon Redbone, 1989
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN — Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_6 

BE BOP SANTA CLAUS — Babs Gonzales, 1955
CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS — Louis Armstrong
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT — Julia Lee and her Boyfriends, 1947
BLUE XMAS — Miles Davis, vocal by Bob Dorough, 1962
OH, TANNENBAUM — Abbie Hubner, 1990
CHRISTMAS BALL BLUES — Leon Redbone, 1989
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN — Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996
JINGLE BELLS — Leo Watson, 1946Rushing the Gift

2001

Unwrapping fresh and original Novelties and Hokum from seasonal albums by The Squirrel Nut Zippers (Hot Christmas, Christmas Caravan) and Asylum Street Spankers (Christmas Spanking). Also, under the tree are Christmas classics from Louis Prima, Eartha Kitt and Pearl Bailey.

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_7

HOT CHRISTMAS — Squirrel Nut Zippers, 1998
WHAT WILL SANTA CLAUS SAY? — Louis Prima, 1936
‘ZAT YOU SANTA CLAUS? — Asylum Street Spankers, 2001
MELE KALIKIMAKA — Asylum Street Spankers, 2001
TRIM YOUR TREE — Asylum Street Spankers, 2001
COME LITTLE CHILDREN — Abbi Hubner and his Lowdown Wizards, 1990
WINTER WONDERLAND — Abbi Hubner and his Lowdown Wizards, 1990
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN — David Grisman, 1983
SANTA BABY — Eartha Kitt, 1953
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN — Woody Herman and his Orchestra, 1942

Previous
Next
Previous
Next

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_8

FIVE POUND BOX OF MONEY — Pearl Bailey, 1959
MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY — Asylum Street Spankers, 2001
BLUE CHRISTMAS — Asylum Street Spankers. 2001
SLEIGH RIDE — Squirrel Nut Zippers, 1998
CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN HARLEM — Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, 1934
JINGLE BELLS — Abbi Hubner and his Lowdown Wizards
WE WANNA SEE SANTA DO THE MAMBO — Big John Greer, 1954
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS — David Grisman, 1983
SWINGIN’ THEM JINGLE BELLS — Fats Waller and his Rhythm, 1936Santa's Piano

2000

Exploring Christmas Jazz and Blues recordings dating back to 1925 with Bessie Smith, Benny Carter and Louis Armstrong. Stocking suffers from Neo-Swing performers Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Swingerhead, The Bill Elliot Orchestra, Ray Gelato and singer Lavay Smith blend Lindy Hop rhythms with holiday cheer.

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_9 

EGG NOG — Casey McGill and Spirits of Rhythm
CHRISTMAS NIGHT IN HARLEM — Louis Armstrong All Stars, 1955
CHRISTMAS IN TINSEL TOWN — Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, 2000
JINGLE BELLS — Benny Carter Swing Quintet, 1936
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN — Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996
WE THREE KINGS — Swingerhead, 2000
WINTER WONDERLAND — Ray Gelato, 2000
RUN RUDOLF — George Gee, 2000

JAZZ RHYTHM Christmas_Pt_10

SANTA CLAUS CAME IN THE SPRING — Putney Dandridge Swing Band, 1935
BE BOP SANTA CLAUS — Babs Gonzales, 1955
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN — Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1996
JINGLE BELLS — Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra, 2000
CHRISTMAS BALL BLUES — Bessie Smith, 1925
CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS — Louis Armstrong, 1955
WINTER WONDERLAND — Lavay Smith, 2000
JINGLE BELLS — Leo Watson, 1946

Or look at our Subscription Options.