Various Artists

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Christmas Jazz, Vol. 2

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On 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Christmas Jazz, Vol. 2, the compilers have opted for some more unusual choices than those found on the first volume. Ella Fitzgerald gets things started in conventional fashion with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis, but Joe Williams' "Kissing by the Mistletoe," Dinah Washington's "Ole Santa," and Billy Eckstine's "Christmas Eve" are lesser-known numbers. Billie Holiday's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" isn't really a Christmas carol at all, despite its December setting, and John Coltrane's "Greensleeves" is traditional but also not quite Christmas-like, especially in his free jazz reading. Equally unusual in that regard is Roland Kirk's pointedly titled "We Free Kings." Sister Rosetta Tharpe reminds listeners to keep the Christ in Christmas with "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Organist Jimmy Smith is credited for "Silent Night," which actually turns out to be a female vocal performance (possibly by Dinah Washington), though that could be Smith on celesta. More likely, somebody made a mistake.

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