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Sound of Christmas

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Album Review

This is a pleasing, if rather brief (29 minutes) Christmas jazz album that was originally quite popular. Reissued on a 1982 LP, the set features the Ramsey Lewis Trio (consisting of the leader/pianist, bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Red Holt) on ten Christmas songs, five of which add a string section arranged by Riley Hampton. The renditions of such tunes as "Winter Wonderland," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Sleigh Ride," and Lewis' "Christmas Blues" are fun and melodic, if not all that unique.

Customer Reviews

Classic Christmas sounds...

I take exception to your reviewer's dismissive comment on Ramsey Lewis' work on Sound of Christmas as "nothing unique". I have been listening to these timeless Ramsey holiday classics (before, during and after the holidays come and go) for every one of the 47 yrs. since their debut on this coming-of-age album in 1960. It formed my early appreciation of jazz at the ripe old age of 13. Not counting the pieces with full orchestration, I have always been amazed by the melodies he and his trio (count 'em, 3 guys) have always been able to create. For ten bucks, you'll own 10 memorable cuts and then be able to easily forgive Mr. Lewis for any of his subsequent forays into pop (The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy, etc.) that followed his early career. Now, if I had been born a decade earlier, I could have enjoyed his trio in person as well at Chicago's legendary London House or Mister Kelly's. I wonder if my boyhood friend and co-discoverer, Larry Meyer has been equally impressed all these years with Sound of Christmas?

Have Yourself a Bluesy-Jazzy Christmas ....

As others have said, this album, which was originally released in late 1961, is worthy of much higher praise than the iTunes review gave it! I just picked it up this season (2007) after reading several positive reivews, and being partial to jazz trios. It did not disappoint! If you enjoy Vince Guaraldi's classic Charlie Brown Christmas recording (and who doesn't love that one) then trust me, you will also dig this. At times a bit somber, and more often than not, swinging, all of these selections are dynamite, and Ramsey's bluesy renditions of "Merry Christmas Baby," "Christmas Blues," along with the highly jazzed "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" are worth the price of the album. The tubular bells on the intro to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" are also quite cool, as a handoff to a slightly haunting rendition. Ramsey also plays vibraphone on several tunes, such as the "Christmas Song," which undergoes a few tempo changes along the way. Overall, it a unique slice of Christmas Americana from the early '60s. Happy Holidays!

If ever there were an album that captures Christmas perfectly...

I fervently disagree with the initial lukewarm review of this album, and personally, I think that this is one of the most underrated Christmas albums of all time. True, it's very brief in time length, but it's completely worth every cent. It's perfect to play during Christmas dinners, while decorating, in the car, or just sitting by the fire with family. If you're looking for a new Christmas album, look no further.


Born: May 27, 1935 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis has been a major figure in contemporary jazz since the late 1950s, playing music with a warm, open personality that's allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 27, 1935, and was introduced to music by his father, who directed the choir at a local church and enjoyed the music of Duke Ellington and Art Tatum. Lewis began studying the piano when he was four years old, and was soon accompanying the choir at Sunday...
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Sound of Christmas, Ramsey Lewis Trio
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