Louis Armstrong and Friends, 'The Best of Christmas Songs'
The best imaginable host for a Christmas get-together, Armstrong beams welcoming warmth and easygoing cheer on this recent compilation of his recordings with friends like Mel Torme, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington and Lena Horne. Every cut is immediately familiar – like pulling up to your brightly-lit childhood home on Christmas Eve after too much traveling. Mel Torme gets Top Friend honors for his velvety "The Christmas Song." But on numbers like "Cool Yule," "Christmas in New Orleans" and "Zat You, Santa Claus?" it's Satchmo's show. The high point is the finger-poppin' "Christmas Night in Harlem," when he growls, "Everyone's gonna sit up til after 3/ Everyone, we be all lit up, like a Christmas tree," and throws in a big, winking belly laugh for party-boss punctuation.
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