It's that time of year—when I pick my classic holiday jazz or pop album. The rules are simple: It has to be an old recording, it has to have escaped most people's radar, and it has to have retained a certain holiday charm—not too sappy and not too earnest. Just timeless fun that brings to mind crackling fireplaces, the smell of toasted marshmallows and the nip of snow. My 2012 pick? Duke Pearson's Merry Ole Soul.
Recorded in February and August 1969, pianist Pearson was joined by bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Mickey Roker and percussionist Airto Moreira. The choices are a mix between children's songs and ballads—Sleigh Ride, Little Drummer Boy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Jingle Bells, Old Fashioned Christmas, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Wassail Song, Silent Night and O' Little Town of Bethlehem.
Order now, and by the time it gets to you, it'll be time to play it.