Don Ho

The Don Ho Christmas Album

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This seasonal Don Ho offering is very much what might be anticipated from the Hawaiian crooner. Ho's vocals are augmented with a full chorus as well as bathed in lush orchestrations from noted arranger/conductor Gordon Jenkins. With an ear toward an adult MOR sound, Ho brings his trademark relaxed and easy demeanor to the 11 traditional and pop tunes on this collection. "Songs of Christmas," which opens the album, may best be remembered from Bing Crosby's similarly delivered rendition. However, this song was actually composed by one of Ho's Hawaiian musical mentors, Kui Lee -- who provided Ho with much of his original repertoire. His interpretation of "O Bambino" is airy, with almost a Latin feel. Ho's bilingual lyrical approach adds to the authentic traditional air. Incidentally, the track was also prominently featured as a duet between Tina and Nancy Sinatra on the Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas (1968) album as well as on the Harry Simeone Chorale's genre-defining Little Drummer Boy (1964) LP. Another tune covered by not only Ho and Bing Crosby, but even artists as far afield as the Beach Boys to Arthur Lyman is "Mele Kalikimaka." The likeness in style and delivery between Ho and Crosby has never been as vividly pronounced as it is here. With the notable exception of "Po La'i" -- Hawaiian for "Silent Night" -- the remainder of the Don Ho Christmas Album contains straightforward renditions of standards such as "Silver Bells," Mel Torme's classic "Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," and "Merry Christmas Neighbor."

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