Duke Pearson's Merry Ole Soul   Swings You Into Christmas

If Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas is a melancholic look back at childhood Christmas viewed through the eyes of the Peanuts gang, Duke Pearson's 1969 Blue Note release Merry Ole Soul is the Christmas record you'll want to play at a hip holiday cocktail party.

Duke Pearson on piano and (super well-recorded) celeste is joined by Bob Cranshaw on bass, Mickey Roker on drums and Airto Moreira on percussion for a set of Christmas faves done jazzy and recorded August 20th 1969 mostly at A&R Studios in New York (by Phil Ramone?) with one track recorded earlier in the year at Rudy Van Gelder's studio. This is a Blue Note Classics series reissue cut by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes and pressed at Optimal.

The group covers Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" (at Rudy's and the celeste sound will "sleigh" you) plus at A&R "Little Drummer Boy", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "Jingle Bells", "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "Silent Night", "Go Tell it on the Mountain" (interesting choice), "Wassail Song", "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem".

The record swings with great sophistication, the small combo plays nimbly and the sound is demo quality. It's a great listen in the foreground and would do well in the background at an adult party. This one gets near the front of my Christmas album favorites. A&R Studios? 1969? You know the sound is great. And the good cheer permeates the arrangements and playing even though most of it was recorded in one sweltering August New York City session. These pros nailed it.

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Jazz listener's picture

to my Christmas vinyl collection.

Not sure I agree though that A Charlie Brown Christmas is “a melancholic look back at childhood Christmas viewed through the eyes of the Peanuts gang”. That certainly may be how those who grew up with it as kids now look upon it, but I don’t think that’s how a younger audience relates to it, and I’ve always just found it to be joyful personally.

Ryan_Pretzel's picture

I've got an original promo copy and have loved this record for years, great improvement and as Michael mentioned, this is demo quality.

Keek's picture

But last year the Gabriel Latchin Trio released I’ll be Home for Christmas on vinyl. I think it’s definitely music worth checking out. I’ve only heard the digital version though.


cafefile.audiophile.mike's picture

just baught this classic series and ynow I realy realy Like it ynow after awhile you get tired of the same ol same ol Christmas tunes played the same way but not on this album. This album is what I have been looking for Christmas music with a twist not Fats Domino twist though.