Christmas music in August?! I know it is summer, but I’ve been listening to Christmas music since April, in preparation for this year’s Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree. “Dig That Crazy Christmas” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra, was one of the many albums (why do we still call them that?) that I listened to in selecting music for this year’s show. Setzer and his ruckus band, roar and swing through 11 holiday classics, along with two originals; the horn-driven stomper "Hey Santa!", spiced with some sizzling vocal and instrumental interchange, and a roaring blues mélange: "Santa’s Got a Hot Rod", complete with blaring horns and a fine, growling vocal from Setzer, describing the wonders of Santa’s new souped-up ride, which has replaced a "rusty old sleigh."
"White Christmas" gets a gently rocking arrangement, graced by honking sax and robust guitar punctuations, while a mid-tempo instrumental version of "My Favorite Things" provides Setzer with a showcase for his serious guitar chops. There are plenty of jazz-tinged solos, ahead of fanciful flights of brass and woodwinds. For comic relief, Setzer brings his mock spooked-out vocal on "’Zat You Santa?", and his generous serving of ham on "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," to which he adds a reverberant top-strings solo that pays homage to "The Munsters" theme song.
“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!” drives just like you may expect a big band ought to do. Towards the end, it takes a turn with a short bass trombone solo catching you off guard. One of the most ambitious charts is, "Angels We Have Heard On High”. Setzer puts everyone out there at breakneck speed. Starting with the orchestra, trumpets at terminal velocity, then and a full-bodied church choir, with enough room for a burst of blaring horns and trebly rock guitar solos. Setzer ties up this holiday gift with a lush, dreamy rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”, which, like the rest of the disc, rings true both in content and spirit.
Though it was released several years ago, the music is anything but dated. Each tune is sure to put a smile on your face. If you’re up for a holiday sound amidst the sun, pop this in a let the grinning begin.