Various Artists

Jazz Yule Love

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While in the studio the previous year with many of the legendary artists on his roster, working on their individual projects, Crusaders legend and Mack Avenue Records president Stix Hooper had a festive idea: get the likes of Terry Gibbs, Cedar Walton, Pete Jolly, George Shearing, Les McCann, Teddy Edwards, Eugene Maslov, and Kenny Burrell to take five and stir up the Christmas spirit with a Yuletide tune. The resulting compilation, Jazz Yule Love, is an instant classic, a swinging traditional jazz sampler that showcases these cats at the peak of their game, being highly creative and improvisational amid the comfort of tunes everyone knows (and a McCann original everyone might not). Jolly's take on "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is especially hard-driving, and Gibbs' lighthearted take on "White Christmas" reminds you of the childlike joys of the season. Jolly tones down for a reading of "O Tannenbaum" that invokes the subtle old arrangement of Vince Guaraldi. Overall, a beautiful and festive way to become familiar with the label and with some of the greatest jazz players of all time.

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