40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

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Oscar Peterson, 'An Oscar Peterson Christmas'
Courtesy Telarc37/40

37. Oscar Peterson, 'An Oscar Peterson Christmas'

Peterson, one of the most accomplished pianists in jazz history, played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie, among other luminaries. On this 1995 album, he found that the true meaning of Christmas was cool jazz instrumentals. At age 70, he no longer needed to prove his virtuosity; instead, he plays with a light touch and leads a swinging six-piece band. When Peterson finds emotional depth in "Jingle Bells," you know he's operating at a higher level.

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