Christmas with Jimmy McGriff

Jimmy McGriff

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Christmas with Jimmy McGriff Review

by Steve Leggett

This funky little holiday gem from 1964 was originally released on Sue Records and was actually Jimmy McGriff's highest charting album, rising to number 15 on the pop charts that year. Naturally his gritty Hammond B-3 playing is front and center here, given wonderful support by drummer Jimmie Smith, guitarist Larry Frazier, and Rudolph Johnson on soprano and tenor saxophone. The whole affair is surprisingly energetic and spunky, and tracks like the hard-charging "Christmas With McGriff," the sleigh bell-embedded "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and the lively "Hip Santa" are all wonderful examples of upbeat soul jazz. Even the version of "Jingle Bells" that closes the set is funked up, riding a chugging rhythm and a bed of sleigh bells into the yuletide night. McGriff could have easily gone through the motions on this holiday session, and that he obviously didn't makes Christmas With Jimmy McGriff even more endearing.

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