Let me start with three of my favorites.
Although I do have a copy of Leon Redbon's Christmas Island album, my favorite island Christmas music is A Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas.
There are a variety of artists on this album, but any fan of stringed instruments will have to love it. The first tune is a really mellow but happy version of Jingle Bell Rock, and some of the picking is just outstanding on all the tunes. With only one exception, it is all instrumental. It all has the gentle island feel and the serenity of silent night, but if ever a hot lick can be called soothing, it is found on this album. Ilisten tothis almost everyday during the month of December. And the last tune is Auld Lang Syne, so you can justify playing the music until the New Year.
Another favorite of mine is the virtuoso mandolin playing on David Grisman and Andy Statman's Songs of Our Fathers.
Although this album is not technically a holiday album, I tend tolisten toit during Hanukkah,Passover, and the high holidays.It is filed with traditional Jewish music from Eastern Europe played in a modern style tinged with Klezmer and jazz sensibilities. The picking is top notch. These guys shred no matter what kind of music they play.
And more traditional is Chanticleer's Psallite! A Renaissance Christmas. Chanticleer is a male choir whose voices just meld together. Although their attempt to do gospel music on other albums falls short, they are in their element here singing the harmonies of classical compositions. Most of the lyrics are in Latin, so you'll need to invite a monk over to translate, but you can enjoy the precise solemn harmonies without understanding the words. I know I do.
Whatever you listen to or play, whether "Daddy's drinking up our Christmas" or "all is calm, all is bright," I hope music complements the joy of the season for all of you.
Dusty T., Northern California
"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger