There is a correct answer to the question, “What’s the best Christmas album.” The answer is Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald. It is a truly great album. Not just a great holiday album, but a great album. It sounds as good in July as it does in December. It’s basically perfect.
It’s right in the title, so it seems obvious, but the whole album swings like crazy. Ella is just an amazing singer. Not only was she blessed with a beautiful voice, her rhythm is astounding. She places her notes in a way that is somehow surprising and obvious at the same time. Real people just can’t do that.
The thing that sets this apart as a Christmas album is the joy and the playfulness in every tune. It encapsulates everything that is fun about Christmas. No matter how old you are, this album lets you see Christmas from a child’s point of view. We all need that from time to time.
There is only one oddity about the album, the cover. Why does a jazz Christmas album have a unicorn with a flower in its mouth on the cover? I’ve never been able to figure that out. It’s not a complaint. It certainly doesn’t take anything away from the album. It’s just a bit of a puzzle for me.
So, in the spirit of giving, I want to give everyone else the pleasure of Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. Give it a listen. You’ll be better off afterwards.