Holiday Jazz Playlist

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Looking to get over your twin phobias of jazz and holiday music? Here are seven tunes that should do the trick:

John Coltrane, "Greensleeves": Coltrane doesn't treat this age-old folk ballad like a mere carol. He recorded "Greensleeves" dozens of times, with some of his most expansive takes veering beyond the 10-minute mark.

Duke Ellington, "Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)" and "Auld Lang Syne": The Duke's woozy read on the "Nutcracker" favorite sounds as though it was recorded after a night of heavy eggnogging. He pulls the inverse trick with "Auld Lang Syne," buttressing the bleary-eyed New Year's singalong with a crisp, taut swing.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, "Baby, It's Cold Outside": One of the most iconic jazz singers of all time sings one of the sweetest seasonal love songs of all time. Guaranteed to warm the cockles of the coldest heart.

Vince Guaraldi, "Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)": You'll recognize this gem from the annual TV favorite "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The instrumental version doesn't have all those Peanuts singing their cartoon lungs out.

Ahmad Jamal Trio, "Snowfall": The revered pianist summons his most delicate touch to evoke afternoon flurries.

Charlie Parker, "White Christmas": The frenzied zigzags that normally came shooting out from Parker's horn match the hectic pace of the season, but his version of the holiday classic is a little more subdued.

-- C.R.

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