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The Brian Setzer Orchestra
BOOGIE WOOGIE CHRISTMAS
(SURFDOG)

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The cat who invented the rockabilly big band has a suitably eclectic take on the high holidays, careering from Tchaikovsky to Tin Pan Alley over the course of a dozen tracks. "Sleigh Ride" rocks about as hard as a tune with a guy singing "ring-ting-tingling" can thanks to Setzerís signature, jazz-inflected guitar sting. He also shows grit on "Blue Christmas" and a rowdy "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," numbers indelibly linked with Elvis. He teams with celluloid vixen Ann-Margret (another Elvis link) for "Baby, Itís Cold Outside," a Frank Loesser gem she first recorded with Al Hirt nearly 40 years ago ó but like most of the other 100 or so versions out there, this one canít hold a menorah to the old Ray Charles/Betty Carter take. Setzer croons better elsewhere, on his original "So They Say Itís Christmas" or an absolutely straight version of "O Holy Night." Easily the wildest excursion is a seven-minute spin through the Nutcracker Suite. On this arrangement, which was crafted many moons ago by Frank Comstock for Les Brown and His Band of Renown, Setzerís 15-piece orchestra swings, marches, or prances as appropriate.

BY BILL KISLIUK

Issue Date: December 19 - 26, 2002
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