No matter where you are, the Christmas season has its own unique sound. The voices of carolers going from door to door, congregations singing at midnight mass, or the song about grandma’s unfortunate incident with a reindeer are all part of what Christmastime sounds like. In New Orleans, the music reflects the city’s deep love for making age-old holiday traditions new again. Well-known songs are sung with a different feeling, while newly composed songs fondly recall favorite holiday memories. On New Orleans Christmas, Putumayo has captured the unique and vibrant voice of this city with a collection of holiday favorites decked in the blues, jazz and swing flavors the Crescent City is famous for.
The album opens with a familiar favorite as Big Al Carson and Academy Award-winning Lars Edegranput a big band twist on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Home-town favorite James Andrewssummons up the spirit of New Orleans Christmas past, as the gravelly tones of his voice and trumpet evoke the raspy vocals of the great Louis Armstrong on “Christmas in New Orleans.” Other tunes get new twists as a bevy of notable musicians put their signature touches on the holiday classics: Ellis Marsalis tickles the ivories to bring new life into “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”, while the internatioinally-known John Boutté dreams for snow to fall on the usually-warm city of his birth on his version of “White Christmas”, recording especially for this collection. Trumpeter and bandleader Gregg Stafford leads the Heritage Hall Jazz Band on their respectful and understated treatment of “Silver Bells.”
Not to be forgotten, the new school of New Orleans music is also helping to get the jingle bells rockin’. The New Birth Brass Band gets the big guy dancing on “Santa’s Second Line”, while Ingrid Lucia, a recent settler in the New Orleans area, teases the chords and the man in red on the playful “’Zat You, Santa Claus?” Papa Don Vappie, The Dukes of Dixieland, Banu Gibson, and Topsy Chapmanround out this musical feast of holiday proportions.