Voices at Large

Concord For The Holidays

06 NOV 07 DAVID VIENNA

The holidays are upon us. I know this because all the local department stores have already put up their Christmas decorations. I know. Crazy, huh? Halloween's corpse isn't even cold yet. The good news is you still have plenty of time to check out some great holiday essentials from Concord.

The first stop on the musical sleigh ride is The 25th Day of December from The Staple Singers. Originally recorded by legendary producer Orrin Keepnews and released in 1962, the gospel-infused classics will add some soulful cred to any holiday celebration. If you prefer your holiday music a little slow and smooth, check out Boney James' Christmas Present. The two-time Grammy-nominee offers his interpretations of holiday standards such as "The First Noel" and "Santa Baby."

If you like your eggnog spiced, try Playboy's Latin Jazz Christmas, which features caliente tracks from the likes of Poncho Sanchez and Pete Escovedo. Of course, there's also Michael Bolton's A Swingin' Christmas. Check out Anne Farnsworth's review of the collection in the American Songbook section of the website.

My personal favorite, however, is Vince Guaraldi. If you don't naturally associate Guaraldi's music with both the classic Peanuts animated specials and the holiday season, you are a Scrooge (if you'll pardon the mixing of cultural icons). Go ahead and complain, but when you talk, all I'll hear is "Wa-wa-Wah? Wa-wa." And if you don't get that joke, you really are a Scrooge and need to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Stat.

Like fellow piano man Dave Brubeck, Guaraldi's gift lay in his ability to construct ferociously addictive pieces from simple melodies, such as his popular "Linus & Lucy." He could also take a familiar song and, using a few modest chords, groove it out. On the recently remastered A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, the Vince Guaraldi Trio applies that groove to a handful of traditional holiday songs. Plus, the remaster comes with four bonus tracks and liner notes from music journalist Joel Selvin.

So, don't yank the football out from under your holidays. Relive your childhood and let Vince Guaraldi or any of Concord Music Group's holiday selections make your season playful, warm and bright.

George Duke - Dreamweaver