40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

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Louis Armstrong, 'What a Wonderful Christmas'
Courtesy of Hip-O Records30/40

30. Louis Armstrong, 'What a Wonderful Christmas'

Louis Armstrong, genius trumpeter, gravel-voiced singer, and jazz pioneer, could turn on a dime between broad comedy and deeply felt emotion. Both sides of his musical personality are on display in his Decca Christmas recordings: "'Zat You, Santa Claus?" is pure slapstick, while his "White Christmas" can make you cry. Unfortunately, there are only six of those recordings, so this collection is filled out with other jazz artists. But you could do much worse than hearing Duke Ellington tackle "Jingle Bells."

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