Five centuries, seven languages, and six singers with 35 years of remarkable experience inform this rare collection of choral music. In the world-renowned King's Singers resplendent voices, ancient and modern choral music comes to life with all the blazing immediacy and timeliness of the gospel of the nativity. With 25 pieces of music–ranging from familiar works such as "Coventry Carol" to the obscure Tchaikovsky piece "The Crown of Roses"–the King's Singers move through this hallowed and festive set with the vocal mastery that only three-and-a-half decades of accomplished work together is capable of creating. A number of contemporary carols written in the last century by composers such as John McCabe, Philip Lawson, John Rutter, and others are balanced by pieces by Bach and a host of traditional works. Lawson's "You Are the New Day," performed with a string quartet, stands out as one of the more notable performances. Like most of their music throughout Christmas, it reminds listeners that the art of music often interprets divine aspects gladly realized here on Earth.
Recorded in 1985, The Spirit of Christmas finds Ray Charles performing a variety of holiday favorites with vocal assistance from the Raelettes and an appearance by jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. The ten tracks mix standards and originals, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and the ballad "That Spirit of Christmas," which was featured in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The Spirit of Christmas is perfect background music for any holiday celebration.
A rare find, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's release Whatchu' Want for Christmas gives the listener a peek back @ one of todays original, 'classically fresh' and unique swing bands. This album is a mix of early recordings of their current hits, You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight (baby), Go Daddy-O, The Jungle Book favorite, I Wanna be Just Like You and, three Christmas tunes that promise to get you in a swingin' holiday mood. If there is one thing this album lacks it is the presence and "finishing touch" Josh Levy (piano, vocals) and Karl Hunter (alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet) provide in the band's current self titled release. Amidst all of the '90's swing' being thrown our way, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy offers an original yet classic swing sound that will leave you Jumpin' Jack… Go-Daddy-O!!
Most of this disc is taken up with Liszt's Christmas Tree, an unusually modest suite based on Christmas carols. It also offers charming pieces by Reger, Tchaikovsky, Rebikov, and Lyapunov based on Christmas themes, and a couple of Bach transcriptions. Eteri Andjaparidze, whose first CD was a sensational Prokofiev collection, plays this music truly superb musicianship and the kind of pianistic color that has become a rarity. Her Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most beautiful I've heard since Dinu Lipatti's. And wait until you hear her delightful playing of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride! It's deliciously witty and charming.
Completely Well was B.B. King's breakthrough album in 1969, which finally got him the long-deserved acclaim that was no less than his due. It contained his signature number, "The Thrill Is Gone," and eight other tunes, six of them emanating from King's pen, usually in a co-writing situation. Hardliners point to the horn charts and the overdubbed strings as the beginning of the end of King's old style that so identifiably earmarked his early sides for the Bihari Brothers and his later tracks for ABC, but this is truly the album that made the world sit up and take notice of B.B. King. The plus points include loose arrangements and a small combo behind him that never dwarfs the proceedings or gets in the way. King, for his part, sounds like he's having a ball, playing and singing at peak power. This is certainly not the place to start your B.B. King collection, but it's a nice stop along the way before you finish it.