Because the repertoire of Christmas songs that musicians are willing to record is usually rather narrow, one often comes to dread or avoid yuletide CDs altogether. But pianist Mark Shane was willing to look beyond the usual list and also use some imagination in putting together his arrangements (along with charts by guitarist James Chirillo) for this release. Starting off with the infrequently heard Louis Prima oldie "What Would Santa Claus Say?" is a welcome change, as this swinger features hot solos by trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, as well as the leader, who also sings in a warm, friendly manner. Shane gets into the campiness of Johnny Mercer's long forgotten "Santa Claus Came in the Spring" and the pseudo-paranoia of the lyric to "'Zat You Santa Claus." James Chirillo's banjo and Shane's music box-like piano help to create an unusual setting for "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen," while the vamp from the well-known swing standard "Flyin' Home" helps to set up the fun-filled "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." This is one Christmas release that won't wear its welcome after a few plays.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden