Various Artists

A Chiaroscuro Christmas

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This is one of the finest Christmas jazz collections to be released on CD. There are 16 selections with a different group of all-stars on each cut, and every one is worth hearing. Pianist Dick Wellstood leads "the Friends of Fats" (who includes former Waller trumpeter Herman Autrey) on a joyous version of "Jingle Bells," trumpeter Bob Barnard is swinging on "Blue Christmas," tenorman Flip Phillips uplifts a medley of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night," Milt Hinton's Survivors jam "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and Summit Reunion (with clarinetist Kenny Davern and Bob Wilber on soprano) are quite hot on "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." Other musicians appearing on this very enjoyable set include pianists Earl Hines (who does a solo on "White Christmas"), Mike Jones, Ralph Sutton, Jay McShann, Dave McKenna, Roger Kellaway, Steve Allen, and Junior Mance, the Manhattan Jazz Quintet, and Louis Bellson.

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