161. Al Grey & Friends / Christmas Stockin' Stuffer (1990)
If you're not averse to "Christmas jazz" -- practically it's own genre nowadays, a diverse lot encompassing everything from Coltrane to Mindi Abair -- then be sure to track down a copy of Christmas Stockin' Stuffer. The mood is relaxed and bluesy, an enjoyable set replete with vocals, organ, guitar, and of course, Grey's talking trombone. I like its lonesome touch on "Winter Wonderland" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," interspersed with Joe (son of Al) Cohn's funky riffing on the guitar. There are some vocal spots like the opening "Christmas Stockin' Stuffer" (guest vocal by Jon Hendricks), which is a treat. "White Christmas" is arranged with strings adding a warm, homey glow to the playlist. The short but sweet New Orleans inspired "Auld Lang Syne" plays you straight through New Years' Eve, if you can't give up the holiday spirit until January. Not exactly what I would describe as an obscure album, but not exactly easy to find, either, Grey's holiday outing is a must-have for my season.