Tony Bennett’s last holiday release was 1968’s Snowfall so his latest holiday release, A Swingin’ Christmas, is a tad overdue. The living legend is in fine form, however, with live renditions of Christmas classics such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “O Christmas Tree”. The Count Basie Big Band, highlighted by Monty Alexander’s sprightly piano playing, lends solid, colorful backing to Bennett’s masterful phrasing. Bennett genuinely sounds like he’s having a good time on these tracks, especially on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” with his playful cues before the solos. It takes a special talent to make well-worn holiday tracks sound vibrant again, but it comes as no surprise that Bennett is more than up to the task.
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