Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas

Ella Fitzgerald

Verve Records, 1960


REVIEW BY: George Agnos


Looking for something a little different when shopping for Christmasmusic? Then you might want to try Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas, and add a little hot jazz to your festivities. Ella Fitzgerald and the Frank DeVol Orchestra run through many of the popular Christmas songs such as "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" as well as selections for children (of all ages) such as "Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer" and Frosty The Snowman".my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first song, "Jingle Bells", is certainly an ear-opener played at a fast tempo, and with singing not quite in full scat mode but adding improvisional lyrics. I wouldn't say this is my favorite renditon of the song, but I have to admit it lives up to the "Swinging Christmas" tag.

More successful is the second song, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town",which swings fine but at a slightly slower tempo. This is a nicer balance of a jazzed up arrangement with some surprises, while at the same time keeping more with the essence of the song.

Next comes Fitzgerald's rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". This is done more faithfully as the midtempo ballad we are more familiar in hearing, and puts her beautiful voice to great use. The rest of the CD alternates between faithful renditions like this one, and the more swinging kind of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

However, there is a wild card in the middle of the CD called "Good Morning Blues". This song, which was co-written by Count Basie, gives us a taste of Fitzgerald's blues singing, but is played at a tempo that keeps it from being downbeat. I could imagine Ray Charles really tearing this one up.

The one other little known song on this collection is called "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?". Although this is a pretty number, it sticks out because it is the only melancholy song here. It is not outright depressing, but the bittersweet feeling would have fit better on a more adult collection of holiday songs.

Overall, Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas is a nice addition to your Christmas music collection. The singing is great, and the band is top-notch collectively and when providing the occasional short, tasteful solo. The arrangements provide an interesting take on family favorites without losing sight of the holiday spirit.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Verve Records, and is used for informational purposes only.