It's that time of year when millions of Americans fire up their stovetops and ovens and get ready for the feast of feasts. Just remember, whether you're "Head Chef", entertaining host or a famished dinner guest, you don't have lose your cheerful spirit this Thanksgiving, even if that casserole burns or you just spent half the day sitting in gridlock... Lighten the mood and set the tone through music! Nothing creates a more festive atmosphere at any holiday gathering than a solid line up of tunes. Check out the following list of 5 albums that are sure to create an inviting ambience wherever you find yourself this holiday season!
1. "Early Autumn" by Ella Fitzgerald (Vocal Jazz/Swing)
Also known as the "Queen of Jazz", Ella Fitzgerald is considered by many to be one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. With a career spanning nearly 60 years starting in the early 1930s, it isn't hard to imagine the impact "Lady Ella" has had on the evolution jazz. Even to this day, it is hard to find vocalists that are able to match her distinct silky smooth sound. Remastered recordings of her unique voice still show up on highly popular holiday compilation recordings, ready to soothe a new generation of listeners. The following compilation is no different, featuring many of Ella's popular numbers, including the album's namesake, Early Autumn. As we brace for chilly temps this holiday, Ella's warm voice won't disappoint.
2. "Autumn" by George Winston (Solo Instrumental Piano):
One of the original seasonal albums released early in his career (and a precursor to his hit December album), Autumn is a solo piano album by self-proclaimed "folk pianist", George Winston. His style of instrumental music is a refreshing alternative to wordy pop ballads, full-sound rock or the fully orchestrated music that fills the airwaves in abundance. On the contrary, George Winton's music focuses on the beauty and simple sound "painted" by a single instrument. Less is powerfully more in his music. Winston paints a musical picture of fall on his Steinway piano, with notes and melodies seemingly depicting the changing colors, falling leaves and a slow down in time as the early Autumn frost sets. With notes of peaceful melancholy, this is the kind of calm music you want gently filling the room as you catch up with loved ones and friends over that warm cup of cider.
3. "Peanuts Greatest Hits" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (Jazz):
If you've ever sat in a high street coffee shop or cafe and overheard the crackled recording of an old jazz piano playing your favorite Charlie Brown theme, you are more than likely listening to the one and only Vince Guaraldi. It goes without saying that Guaraldi's distinct Jazz and Bossa Nova stylings make for that quintessential "holiday sound". This album includes many fan favorites, including the appropriately named, Thanksgiving Theme. Great for setting a nostalgic tone at your party or lightening the mood after any cranberry mishaps, you can't go wrong with some classic tunes from the composer of the original "Peanuts" theme and songs.
4. "Art of Motion" by Andy McKee (Instrumental Guitar):
If you're looking for relaxing instrumental guitar music that will put your put your mind at ease, consider listening to American guitarist and composer, Andy McKee. As with all his recordings, Art of Motion, showcases Andy's uniquely gifted approach to acoustic guitar. Though not named or themed necessarily after any particular season, this album seems fitting for any gathering or occasion. Whether you're listening to the fast fingerstyle of Practice Is Perfect or melting away at the mesmerizing harmonics in Nocturne, this album will leave listeners' hearts full of gratitude.
5. "The Four Seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi (Classical Strings):
No list of seasonal favorites would be complete without mention of The Four Seasons by Baroque composer, violinist, and virtuoso, Antonio Vivaldi. If you're looking to add a touch of class and sophistication to your gathering, you'll want to make sure to have a recording of this masterpiece on hand. Pay particular attention to how Vivaldi gives musical expression to each season. In Autumn, you'll hear notes depicting the falling of the leaves and maybe a gust of wind or two! This "classical" genre album is sure to elevate your gathering this holiday.