Putumayo World Music; October 2008
Even those sick to death of Christmas standards can’t deny the pleasure of Ray Charles’s take on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” perhaps the most sweet and soulful rendition ever. And that’s just one of the treats on Putumayo’s A Jazz & Blues Christmas, which throws together faster-paced jazz instrumentals by the Ramsey Lewis Trio (doing Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus”), the yelling R&B of Riff Riffin (doing “Xmas Baby”), the retro, swinging jump blues of the Mighty Blue Kings (doing “All I Ask for Christmas”), and the slow, sultry Canadian jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow (doing “Santa Baby”). When you toss in B.B. King’s version of “Christmas Celebration” and Charles Brown easily handling “Santa’s Blues,” it’s clear that Putumayo is presenting something for many Decembers to come.