By now readers of my blog know that I love Christmas. I kinda love most things about Christmas, (perhaps except for certain kinds of Christians-but that's another story), but the music is what makes the holiday most special to me. Each year I pick up one or two new cds (yes, I still buy cds - and vinyl LPs too!) of holiday music, but most usually get downloaded and quickly filed away.
Last year I picked up the newly-released Joy to the World by Pink Martini - a pop jazz ensemble that I've been a fan of for the past dozen years or so. While I expected the disc to be good, I had no idea that it would quickly become one of my favorite holiday albums of all time. Unlike other recording artists, who seem to lazily approach Christmas music as some quick money-making chore, Pink Martini has embraced the task with the thoughtfulness and complexity that they would put into any of their fine recordings. The result is a true work of art that could possibly be the best Christmas album ever recorded.
I mean what album could boast two versions of Irving Berlin's 1940s wartime chestnut White Christmas—one in English and one in Japanese? Additionally we have tracks in Ukrainian (Shchedryk or The Carol of the Bells, 1916), Hebrew (Elohai, N'tzor, 2000), Chinese (Congratulations - A Happy New Year Song, 1946), Italian (Le Vergine Degli Angeli, from Verdi's La forza del destino, 1862), German (Silent Night, 1816), Scottish, French and Arabic (Auld Lang Syne, 1788) and what I think is a Spanish Hanukah song (Ocho Kandelikas, 1981)! There are also gorgeous versions of Little Drummer Boy (1958), Do You Hear What I Hear? (1962), We Three Kings (1857) and a sweet and sexy cover of Santa Baby (1953).
An added special bonus for me is the guest appearance of a certain Patricia Costa Kim - from Sonseed. That's right, Sonseed - the Christian rock band that this very blog put back on the map back in 2008. Now, how weird and special is that???
Pink Martini was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by Thomas M. Lauderdale with vocalist China Forbes, joining in 1995. Having grown into a 12-piece orchestra, they have performed with the Boston Pops, San Francisco Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Pink Martini’s brilliant first four previous albums have collectively sold over 2 million copies worldwide, and I'm happy to add this fifth extraordinary release to my collection. Check out out Pink Martini here. They are scheduled to be guests on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion this coming weekend.