Search - Tony Bennett :: A Swingin' Christmas

A Swingin' Christmas
Tony Bennett
A Swingin' Christmas
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

2008 album release Swingin' Christmas featuring the Count Basie Big Band. Bennett has 15 Grammy Awards along with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2001). 'Tony Bennett is among the most recognized human beings on the...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Tony Bennett
Title: A Swingin' Christmas
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/1/2008
Re-Release Date: 10/14/2008
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Easy Listening, Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: A Swingin' Christmas with Bonus Tracks
UPC: 886973225028


Album Description
2008 album release Swingin' Christmas featuring the Count Basie Big Band. Bennett has 15 Grammy Awards along with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2001). 'Tony Bennett is among the most recognized human beings on the planet.' ~Vanity Fair. The album tracks are 'The Christmas Song', 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', 'I'll Be Home for Christmas, 'Winter Wonderland', 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town', 'Christmas Time is Here', 'My Favorite Things', 'The Christmas Waltz', 'Christmas Auld Lang Syne', 'Silver Bells' and 'Christmas Tree'.

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CD Reviews

Worth the long wait for Tony's second Christmas classic!
Mark Blackburn | Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada | 10/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everything about this CD . . . from its cover photo (a send-up of Norman Rockwell's famous "Freedom from Want" oil painting) with veteran jazz pianist Monty Alexander standing beside Tony to present a picture-perfect turkey to fellow Basie Band alumni -- from the front cover, to Tony's own back-of-the-liner notes water color (Christmas in Vermont?) . . . everything about this CD is a work of art!

Hard to believe, but it's been a full 40 years, since Tony Bennett recorded his last Christmas album -- a classic titled "Snowfall" --- recorded in both London and New York, (orchestrated / conducted in both cities, by Tony's "all-time favorite arranger," the late Robert Farnon).

When the CD version was released more than a decade ago, editorial reviewer "Steve Gdula" stated at the time that, Tony's SNOWFALL album "renders every other version of these songs `null and void'."

Well, with the release this day of "Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Big Band's SWINGIN' CHRISTMAS," I declare these brand new renditions of Christmas favorites to be equally terrific, in their own sweet way!

Highlights? Tony's duet with daughter "Antonia" on a delightful re-working of Irving Berlin's `other' seasonal classic, presented by father & daughter as, "WE'VE Got OUR Love to Keep US Warm," -- brilliantly orchestrated by one of Frank Sinatra's late-in-life arrangers, Frank Foster.

Speaking of great arrangers . . . the "Dean" of living orchestrators Johnny Mandel MAY have arranged my favorite track on this new album "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU" -- a song Johnny co-wrote with the Bergmans, Marilyn and Alan (whose earliest hit for Frank Sinatra, before they were married, was "Nice `N' Easy").


[A personal aside, if you'll permit: Two years ago, a publicist for a project Johnny Mandel was working on in Los Angeles, emailed me to relate how she had entered Tony Bennett's name in a search engine and up came my review for Tony's (2006) Grammy-winning "ART OF ROMANCE" album. In that review, I'd dwelt heavily on the "gorgeous arrangements, most of them by the great Johnny Mandel" (plus a few beautiful orchestrations by Johnny's brilliant protégé, Jorge Calandrelli). The lady stated that, when she "read your review, over the phone to Johnny," he asked her with genuine humility, "Can you hear me blushing over the phone?"]

This, by way of noting that the arranger of the full-stringed orchestra for my favorite track here, "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU," is not listed --in otherwise accurate liner notes (and none of the string players is listed either!) I'm guessing the arranger is Johnny Mandel himself, (or else Jorge Calandrelli). Did I mention that this, my favorite track, includes a 25 second solo by the greatest-ever jazz harmonica player, Toots Thielemans? Breathtakingly beautiful!

While this review is for the CD alone, it should be noted that the "CD/DVD" (2-disc) package includes a five-part "video version" on "The Making of a Swingin' Christmas." For only an additional six dollars, it's the better bet (I say) for Christmas giving!

[NOTE: Jazz musicians know about "Monty Alexander" -- others may not. The featured pianist here, Monty was greatly admired by Frank Sinatra when the singer first heard the Jamaican-born, pianist/accompanist, performing at "Jilly's" bar, in NYC, some 40 years ago.]

The now silver-haired Alexander's work on this recording is subtle, perfection-as-usual. Harold Jones (pictured in the cover photo second-from-the-left) is another of Tony Bennett's personal favorite musicians (featured on Tony's live performances of recent years).

In his video introduction, Tony graciously notes that, "What would [otherwise] be missing, was Count Basie's great piano. Filling in," says Tony, "is a fantastic artist that the music world loves! -- Monty Alexander."

For the 'closer' here, Tony turned to his regular quartet pianist and musical director Lee Musiker who provides a hauntingly beautiful, solo accompaniment for my new favorite version of an old carol, "O CHRISTMAS TREE." It's the gentlest of readings by Tony -- with majestic, sustained chords by Lee: kindred musical spirits, 'alone together,' gifting us with an `O TANNENBAUM' simultaneously new and fresh . . . even as it retains that reverential feel (such dignity & grace) to which a two-century-old, German carol is entitled!

Most of the other tracks -- up-tempo swingers -- are sparklingly arranged by Bill Holman. And, another of Sinatra's former arrangers, Torrie Zito came up with a new (best-ever?) rendition of Vince Guaraldi's 40-year-old ("Charlie Brown" 1965) classic -- CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE. Simply gorgeous!

Thanks, Tony Bennett, for a musical Christmas gift that was worth the long wait!

Mark Blackburn

Winnipeg Canada

"Merry Christmas. . .May Your New Year Dreams Come True"
Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue* | CA USA | 12/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tony Bennett's "A Swingin' Christmas" and Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album are two of the most remarkable and my top favorite Christmas albums that totally impressed my ears for the many beautiful things they are made of. This is truly a winning Christmas album that I merrily recommend to be a part of your Christmas celebrations. Likewise, it is a perfect stocking stuffer.

With this Christmas album, Tony Bennett presents notable Christmas carols recorded in the most charming settings starting off with the swingiest version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Its engaging Big Band chart arrangement is such a delight to listen to and it sets the tone to the rest of the tracks with Big Band arrangements such as "Silver Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "My Favorite Things," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" which features Andy Snitzer playing tenor sax solo, and "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," an attractive duet with his daughter, Antonia Bennett, whose charming vocal style is something Mr. Bennett should be proud of.

The beauty and charms of this Christmas offering is magnified by the backing of some of the finest musicians in the music world. A big thanks to Monty Alexander and Lee Musiker who will dazzle you with their extraordinary talents in piano. There's Toots Thielemans to beguile you with his exceptional ability in playing his harmonica flawlessly in "All I Want For Christmas Is You." There's Gray Sargent to delight you with his great guitar artistry. There's Paul Longosch to enthrall you with his ingenuity in bass playing. There's Harold Jones to stun you with his incredible flair in drums. There's the 13-piece Count Basie Orchestra to astound you with its Big Band style. And not to mention some of the greatest arrangers whose works are top-notch, masterful and astonishing, Bill Holman, Torrie Zito, Frank Foster and Lee Musiker.

Aside from the Big-Band-arranged-tracks, I also love Tony Bennett's wonderful take on one of my seasonal favorites, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" executed in a beautiful fashion that makes it one of the best versions ever recorded.

In closing, here's a verse from my topmost choice here, "A Christmas Waltz," a Christmas gem from the pens of two brilliant songwriters from Tin Pan Alley, lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne.

"Every song you hear seems to say

Merry Christmas

May your New Year dreams come true

And this song of mine

In three-quarter time

Wishes you and yours

The same thing too""