Quintessential jazz hits for the holiday

Jay Walker-Schulte, Entertainment Editor

Wintertime conjures images of torrential flurries of powdery white snow, pullovers swallowed by lint, and holiday-themed reruns.

It’s also about the time that people either complain about Christmas music being played too early or act as the repeated offender of the heinous act.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Christmas music as my preferences have chiseled. The chilled season’s essence, to me, isn’t quite captured by pop jingles.

However, jazz has always remained the backbone of my holiday spirit. So, I’ve decided to share with you a few of my favorite jazz-centered winter tunes.  

“Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet

“Take Five” is smoother than eggnog on a nippy morning. The quintuple-timed piece–for which it was named–features a rolling drum motif with a warm blues sax refrain.

It also has a particularly memorable two-chord piano ostinato that acts as a strong foundation for the song.

Dave Brubeck’s hit jazz staple never fails to thaw me no matter how many times I hear it.

Carmen McRae’s vocal cover of the song that she performed with the quartet (simply taking place of the saxophone line) is also catchy, yet the homey atmosphere that comes with the original song is stolen away by the cover’s quicker-paced and samba-esque inflection.

“Sad Tune” by European Jazz Trio

European Jazz Trio certainly took no risky liberties whilst naming this piece–but at least they were accurate.

“Sad Tune” is a hard transition from “Take Five”: the song is slow, borderline melancholic, and more typical of your usual wintery jazz piece.

The song is simple, only using a mournful, dragging piano melody lying atop a bass-line that relies on the drums to carry it.

“Sad Tune” feels heavy and wistful, which is great for staring out of a frost-glazed window like a snowed-in and sullen romantic interest.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much technical sustenance to the song, so I’d recommend using it as ambience rather than a focused listen.

“Bebop Lounge” by saib.

“Bebop Lounge” is pulled from artist saib.’s 2017 album “Bebop”, which is a homage to the iconic 1998 anime “Cowboy Bebop.”

Admittedly, one could confuse “Bebop Lounge” as something apart of The Seatbelts’ original soundtrack written for the show, which is interesting since it’s rather atypical of saib.’s usual low-fi hip-hop aesthetic.

“Bebop Lounge” is absolutely magnetic, in an almost indescribable way.

Each listen is like a small adventure: the song’s thumping baseline and vibrant drum-solo tug me along with it.

From the captivating vocals to the personified trumpet riff, “Bebop Lounge” makes me feel alive during the sometimes-dreary sweater weather.

Paradise Within (Paradise Found)” by The Manhattan Transfer

“Paradise Within (Paradise Found)” can quite honestly be summed up as “50’s elevator music.”

Its enigmatic marimba and wishy-washy drums make the song quaint and likable.

The first time I heard it, I was especially drawn in by the vocals.

The Manhattan Transfer uses a sort of barbershop quartet acapella style, which is unique since they utilized two female voices. This close-harmony is reminiscent of “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes.

The tone is charmingly nostalgic and reminds me of the old holiday reruns I used to watch with my grandparents.

Holiday music doesn’t necessarily have to be a faux pop high. If you’re not a fan of that typical waxy and manufactured music evocative of digging through clearance Christmas items, then I’d recommend using jazz to broaden your winter playlist’s horizons.