[20 November 2007]
Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas would be an unlikely candidate for Top Pick in the “Lady Ella” discography, Christmas albums being what they are. You know, all happy and jolly and “you better not pout ‘cause the man with the reindeer will pay you a visit”. Some people, but not me of course, become increasingly blah and “bah humbug” as the Christmas season approaches. In such cases, Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas might provide the right vibe to get you in the spirit. The material itself is decidedly non-secular, which may not have universal appeal, yet the simple beauty and gorgeous technique in this music might have you listening to it over and beyond the holidays. Especially when you consider that these tracks were recorded in July of 1967! Ms. Fitzgerald’s voice is one of our musical treasures, and here, her pure and tender renderings bring magic to 13 of my, I mean your, favorite Christmas tunes. Highlights are “Joy to the World” and the always adorable “Silent Night”. Other standards, like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”, benefit from the backing of Ralph Carmichael’s Chorus and Orchestra, offering a sense of familiarity and togetherness. The world could use a little more of that, right? At slightly under 30 minutes, someone (okay, I admit it, it’s me!) might feel compelled to keep this CD on repeat.