THE BRIAN SET­ZER OR­CHES­TRA The Ul­ti­mate Christ­mas Col­lec­tion (Surf­dog Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Swing mu­sic passes in and out of fash­ion de­pend­ing on gen­eral pub­lic sen­ti­ment, but Christ­mas is one time sen­ti­ment swings in fa­vor of retro fla­vor. It’s the time of year when nos­tal­gic thoughts are never far from any­one’s mind, whether it’s be­cause of the mil­lionth view­ing of A Christ­mas Carol or The Nutcracker or the don­ning of gay ap­parel (like that old sweater with the rein­deer and snowflakes on it). Swing makes for ex­cel­lent Christ­mas party mu­sic. You could do worse than this com­pi­la­tion for your hol­i­day gath­er­ing, as the band tears through ren­di­tions of ma­te­rial as var­ied as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s De­sir­ing.” Some of the ar­range­ments don’t work, such as on the awk­wardly com­posed “The Nutcracker Suite” — but the skip but­ton can help save Christ­mas. And I wouldn’t rec­om­mend toss­ing this record on in any non­party sit­u­a­tion— the corny jokes, “cool cats and kit­ties” ref­er­ences, and kitschy cover tunes can be­come too grat­ing. But hey, mu­si­cally, there’s lit­tle to com­plain about. Set­zer is an ex­cel­lent gui­tarist, and he runs a tight ship. While the hu­mor is strained, the mu­sic is never la­bored. Oh yeah, and it comes with a col­or­ful con­cert DVD that the cool kid­dies might get a kick out of.

— Robert Ben­ziker

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