Long-time JazzWax readers know that each year at this time I pick my favorite vintage holiday album. To make the grade, the album has to be from the '50s or '60s and have a perfect mixture of pop, jazz and swing—with a dash of Rockwellian sentiment. It also has to do a swift job of taking us back to a time when stuffed animals were oversized, candy was homemade, black rubber snow boots had metal clasps and fireplace blazes had to be skillfully constructed.
This year, my choice is Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme's That Holiday Feeling! Released on Columbia in 1964 and produced by Robert Mersey, the album had multiple arrangers, with the orchestra conducted by Joe Guercio, who would become Elvis Presley's musical director and conductor.
This Steve & Eydie album is peppermint perfect from start to finish. The tracks are toasty and frosty, they are sequenced just right and there isn't a dud in the bunch. Just two honey-voiced pop artists singing and swinging about love and the holidays.
Footnote: Steve Lawrence and the late Eydie Gorme also recorded three tracks for Christmastime in Carol and Song—a rather uptight Arthur Fiedler project for RCA released in 1969 with opera singer Leontyne Price.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme's That Holiday Feeling! here as Happy Holiday. The problem is the 14 tracks are all out of order—something you can remedy by moving them around in your iTunes folder.
- That Holiday Feeling (arr. Don Costa),
- White Christmas (arr. Glenn Osser)
- Winter Wonderland (arr. Patrick Williams)
- The Christmas Song (arr. Costa)
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (arr. Osser)
- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (arr. Al Cohn)
- Sleigh Ride (arr. Cohn)
- Let Me Be the First to Wish You Merry Christmas (arr. just says "Hall" and I'm drawing a blank)
- Let It Snow (arr. Billy Byers)
- What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? (arr. Osser)
- That Ol' Christmas Spirit and Happy Holiday (arr. Costa)
- Happy Holiday (arr. Costa)
JazzWax Vintage Holiday Album Hall of Fame: Here are my previous inductees...
2012—Duke Pearson: Merry Ole Soul (1969)
2011—Urbie Green: A Cool Yule Tide (1954)...
2010—Eddie Higgins: Christmas Songs (2004)...
2009—June Christy: This Time of Year (1961)...
2008—Jo Stafford's Happy Holidays: I Love the Winter Weather (1950s)