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40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

Ella Fitzgerald, 'Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas'
Courtesy of Verve Music Group1/40

1. Ella Fitzgerald, 'Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas'

If modern Christmas music is basically an appendix to the Great American Songbook, then who better to sing it than the foremost interpreter of Cole Porter and the Gershwins? This superb 1960 jazz album finds Fitzgerald enthusiastically romping through field and fountain, singing "Sleigh Ride" with supreme joy and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" with exquisite phrasing and subtlety. Even the songs that are overplayed chestnuts become tasty again after roasting in Lady Ella's vocal fire.

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