Various Artists

A Family Christmas

Putumayo World Music; October 2009

If Christmas is all about tradition, then the folks at Putumayo World Music sure have instituted a good one. On this, the label’s sixth Christmas album, artists as variant as swing masters Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and bluegrass king Sam Bush dish up new renditions on holiday classics, as well as a smattering of originals. Though the record, like most compilations, hits some low-lows (English folkie Kate Rusby’s take on “Here We Come A-Wassailing” is one), there are some definite highlights here. Take, for example, Leon Redbone’s ragtime take on the classic “Let it Snow.” With a healthy dose of parlor piano and Redbone’s perfectly Vaudevillian delivery, the track plays like a true Christmas relic from a bygone era. Similarly, Lars Eldegran’s Dixieland take on “Frosty the Snowman” plays out like a swinging, jazzy jam brimming with musical cheer-and that’s a tradition we’re happy to keep alive.

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