Various Artists

Music Diary: December - Christmas Time

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The December entry in the sublime Music Diary series inevitably celebrates the holidays, unwrapping seasonal cult classics from the Motown, A&M, Verve, and Mercury vaults to assemble an unusually hip and lively Christmas compilation. To its credit, Christmas Time eschews the ponderous hymns and silly novelty tunes that hamper most holiday sets of this kind, instead adhering to the bubbly, velvety-smooth pop, jazz, and Latin sensibilities established via previous volumes in the series. For all their idiosyncrasies, the songs are nevertheless heartfelt expressions of the same Christmas spirit. Highlights include Burt Bacharach's "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle," Claudine Longet's "I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You," and Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66's "The Christmas Song."