Sometimes I wonder if getting to do an Xmas album with a lot of schmaltz means you’ve made it in the record industry with the seemingly endless stream of releases. When there is finally something different from a group this reviewer immediately takes notice. Such is the case with the Cool Yule release.

Operating under the guiding principle of what would Django do with bumper stickers available (, The Hot Club of San Francisco have released a refreshing change in a Xmas album for 2009. Patterned after the music performed by Grappelli and Reinhardt with the Quintette du Hot Club de France in the 30’s which featured string instruments (no percussion) in a unique jazz style. Even if you like percussion as I do your ear will quickly adapt to the bass beat.

Starting off with “Cool Yule,” a somewhat obscure Steve Allen song, the group sets the tone for the CD. Featuring a cool vocal, guitar, and violin solos in a foot stomping style the table is set. The gypsy/latin arrangement of “Don Rodolfo” follows in an arrangement of Rudolph the likes of which I’m sure you’ve not heard before. “Sugar Rum Cherry,” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and originally arranged and performed by Ellington is an example of what a jazz group can do with any melody. You can certainly hear the influence from Duke with the wa- wa trumpet. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is the only arrangement that schmaltz is the order of the day. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the other vocal number on the CD and it is a pleasant exchange between Isabelle Fontaine and Jeff Magidson.

If your looking for something unusual and out of the ordinary for some of your Xmas music for this year I think you’ll find this release to be an attractive offering. Recommended.

CD# is Azica AJD-72242

Produced by Alan Bise

Mixing and Mastering by Alan Bise

Track Listing:

1. Cool Yule (2:17)

2. Don Rodolfo (5:00)

3. Carol of the Bells (4:53)

4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (3:00)

5. Baby It’s Cold Outside (4:23)

6. Djingle Bells (6:51)

7. Sugar Rum Cherry (3:35)

8. I Wonder As I Wonder (4:49)

9. March of the Toys (4:55)

10. The Christmas Song (4:52)

11. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (2:54)

12. Auld Lang Syne (7:40)

Total Track Time is 51:09