Jazz

Making Christmas Swing

05 NOV 07 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Christmas comes early courtesy of Concord Records and Michael Bolton. The raspy-voiced rocker who explored his eclectic interests via a Sinatra tribute album (Bolton Swings Sinatra) and a collection of Italian and French arias releases his second Christmas CD, A Swingin' Christmas.

To any Scrooges out there who wonder if we need another Christmas album, I say, "Humbug," the more the merrier. I pick one up every year and love the diverse approaches to holiday chestnuts, whether do-wop, blues, rock or jazz. Pulling them out with the Christmas decorations is a double treat. The season's too short to tire of them and, after a year in storage, I'm delighted to rediscover what I've forgotten I have.

The up-tempo cuts on A Swingin' Christmas truly do swing. While not forsaking his trademark muscular sound, Bolton's singing is relaxed and easy. He soars comfortably over Chris Walden's smoking arrangements, the go-to arranger for artists like Nancy Wilson, Barbra Streisand and Paul Anka.

Walden's punching horns and driving rhythm section give new life to "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow." A full string section, lushly symphonic, warms "Joy To The World" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." To his credit, Bolton, who produced the album, spared no expense in both the size and quality of his orchestra.

So... another Christmas album? Absolutely! Stocking stuffer, hostess gift, or just the annual addition to a growing collection -- your holidays will swing a little harder and feel more festive with A Swingin' Christmas in the mix.