White Christmas Cookin' Under a Blue Yule

To my utter amazement, the streets of Portland were completely covered with snow before I stumbled out of bed this morning. According to my calculations, it has snowed about three or four times every winter that I have lived here, so it caught me off guard.

My girlfriend Verity was born and raised in Oregon so it is an exciting thing for her whenever it snows in Portland. Since I am from the chilly midwest (Peoria, IL to be exact) I don't get nearly as excited as she does about the magical white powder that falls from the skies. Nevertheless, we ventured outside to experience a winter wonderland filled with youngsters snowboarding and sledding down the steep hills of our neighborhood park. I thought that I was well prepared for the treacherously cold weather, but I could have used a face mask to block the cold wind that was slapping me in my face. Apparently, temperatures are expected to remain cold throughout the week with a high likelihood of more snowfall by Wednesday. Damn, I just can't escape the cold weather.

But the timing of this weather couldn't have been more perfect. We were able to get our Christmas tree on Saturday afternoon before the really cold weather arrived. Later that day, we decorated the tree while listening to Pandora's holiday music station. We felt fortunate to score such a great deal on our tree, and we celebrated by cracking open a bottle of sparkling wine that really hit the spot. What a fantastic way to get into the Christmas spirit!

[Polygram, 1964]

Today, I am sharing a couple Christmas gems from the archives of Eclectic Grooves. These were first featured on here in Christmas of 2006.

First off, Christmas Cookin' is an amazing Christmas album from the hammond organist, Jimmy Smith. Christmas Cookin' is indeed an appropriate title for this barnburner of an album, as Jimmy's upbeat organ runs plug you into the joys of celebrating the Christmas season with your family and friends.

From the dynamic opening to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" the listener knows that they are in for an exciting ride filled with Jimmy's spirited hammond organ peppered with orchestral flourishes. Sometimes while listening to this record, I completely forget that it is a Christmas record, especially during the long organ solos during "Santa Claus in Coming to Town" and "The Christmas Song". This is not a bad thing at all, especially when you have grown weary of hearing Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" spin on your hi-fi for the kajillionth time. It is definitely a staple in my Christmas listening, and it should serve as a perfect companion for you while cooking Christmas dinner or enjoying a glass of eggnog in front of your fireplace. I checked on the internet and it appears that this record is out of print, so download it and enjoy listening to the "Magnificent Jimmy Smith" in all his glory.

[Rhino Records, 1991]

I first featured this stellar compilation of Christmas blues tunes on Eclectic Grooves in Christmas of 2006. While I was working at Music Millennium, this was one of the staffs' favorite records to spin during the holiday season. It was a sure-fire winner because it featured a diverse selection of jazz and blues artists playing original Christmas tunes. There is no "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" to be found on here. Instead, you will find an eclectic mix of styles including down-and-dirty swamp blues, slow-burn blues, jump-blues, ballads and jazzy instrumentals. Highlights include "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" by the delta blues master Lightnin' Hopkin's, the classic R&B sound of "Santa Claus Baby" by the Voices and Sonny Boy Williamson's gritty swamp blues song "Santa Claus". It doesn't matter what you find under the Christmas tree when the music you are listening to is this good. I will be back soon with a Best of 2008 podcast, a Christmas podcast as well as more downloads to fill your Christmas stocking.


Anonymous said…
Both great albums. Thanks a lot.
Spinning said…
Thanks so much!

* Wanted to let you know that some of the cuts from Blue Yule aren't correctly tagged, though... You might want to double-check it.

santos curser said…


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