9. Kenny Burrell: Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas — Some real groovy guitar jazz tracks, especially the jammin’ Little Drummer Boy, toe-tappin’ jams on My Favorite Things and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and a gospel-tinged Away In a Manger.
8. Christmas Party with Eddie G — A truly eclectic and eccentric “mix tape”-ish compilation: includes the hilarious Merry Old Philosopher bits and many other fun segues, plus rarely heard quirky gems like Christmas Wish (by NRBQ), Donde esta Santa Claus, Cool Yule, and Heartbreak Noel…
7. Robert Shaw Chorale: The Many Moods of Christmas — Big big BIG sounds: full orchestra, chorus and organ… take no prisoners Mahlerian orchestrations… and medleys… MEDLEYS!
6. Swingle Singers: Christmastime — A merry affair with the trademark wordless do-be-doos and skittering percussion of the Swingles… a good mix of familiar and lesser known carols… and yes, MEDLEYS!
5. Frank Sinatra: A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra — The Gordon Jenkins arrangements are a bit dreary and corny, and there are too many sacred carols … but come on, it’s Frankie, it’s Christmas, and nothing sounds better by the fireside…
4. Leonard Bernstein: The Joy of Christmas — Very creative and tasteful arrangements for orchestra and chorus by Eddie Sauter (of Stan Getz/Focus fame), and the only listenable 12 Days of Christmas I’ve ever heard.
3. George Shearing Quintet: Christmas — Sets a wonderfully warm mood, and includes a few non-standard but gorgeous selections (Donkey Carol, Balulalow, Noel Nouvelet). The inspired “mash-up” (?!) of God Rest Ye Merry gentlemen with Brubeck’s Take Five rhythm is brilliant… and Shearing even sings on the final track!
2. Jackie Gleason: Merry Christmas — The slowest version of Jingle Bells ever… All dreamy and icy, creeping along at glacial tempos… ooohing choirs, tinkling bells, swirling strings… so fantastic!
1. Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas — A perfect album, period.
Carpenters: Christmas Portrait
Ramsey Lewis Trio: Sound of Christmas
Diana Krall: Christmas Songs
Ultra Lounge: Christmas Cocktails Parts 1 & 2
Esquivel: Merry Xmas
Tony Bennett: Snowfall
Christmas Remixed Volumes 1 & 2
Ella Fitzgerald: Wishes You a Merry Christmas
Stan Kenton: A Merry Christmas
John Denver: Rocky Mountain Christmas
Eaken Piano Trio: Home for the Holidays