For as long as I can remember, I’ve been acquiring a Christmas album (or often several) each year: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, B.B. King, Ramsey Lewis, Aaron Neville, Etta James, Charlotte Church, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Harry Connick, Brian Setzer, Cee Lo Green, Old 97’s, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Mavericks, Reverend Horton Heat, Los Straitjackets…I could go on (a lot). Regardless of the gathering or circumstances, though, my go-to choice for the last decade or so has been Oscar Peterson, and his genre-perfecting, “An Oscar Peterson Christmas.” Without question, it’s the best sitting-around-the-fire Christmas album I know. My kids would say it’s extremely chill.
Peterson was a true great of the jazz world, a legendary pianist who Duke Ellington was known to have called the “Maharaja” (roughly, the “high king”) of the keyboards.” Peterson’s bio notes that his career spanned over 60 years, that he won eight Grammys – as well as countless other awards and honors, and casually throws out that he released over 200 recordings (200 albums?! How do these jazz cats manage to do that? Elton John, to pick another well-known pianist, has had an incredibly long and prolific career, and he’s made 34). Anyway, this is the opening track on Peterson’s seasonal standard-bearer, which will reliably be warming my household on Christmas night. I’d be honored if any readers would also choose to include it as part of theirs.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.