We’ve compiled our top jazz, swing and blues Christmas songs that will add a touch of class and groove to your festivities. Perfect to put on while you are decorating the tree or catching up with friends, or for something a little more formal such as a Christmas drinks reception, these Christmas jazz songs are suitable for every occasion! Ranging from old-school favourites such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to modern day jazz newcomers such as Michael Bublé and Norah Jones, this list of top jazz Christmas songs will leave you feeling festive and mellow – no matter how hectic the Christmas period gets.
1. Frosty The Snowman – Ella Fitzgerald
The album ‘Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas’ was released in 1960 and featured 12 classic Christmas songs. ‘Frosty The Snowman’ is the fifth song on the second side of the album and is a much-loved favourite. Originally written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950, the song has had hundreds of covers recorded and released in its time by jazz bands, solo singers, Motown artists – the list is endless! This jazzy version by Ella Fitzgerald is definitely one of our favourite versions on the song.
2. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
An all-time Christmas favourite, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is the kind of song that warms your heart when you hear it for the first time in December. Frank Sinatra released his version with adjusted lyrics in 1948, with the original recording being by Judy Garland in 1944. Originally for the musical Meet Me In St. Louis, this song is now a Christmas staple that we couldn’t imagine the festive season without.
3. Merry Christmas Baby – Etta James
Etta James released ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ on her holiday album ’12 Songs of Christmas’ in 1998. This jazzy blues album features James singing some of the most popular Christmas songs with the smooth accompaniment of keys, trombone and saxophone. The song itself dates back to 1947 when it was first recorded by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers. Since then, it’s been covered by anyone who’s anyone in the world of music, from Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to John Legend, Christina Aguilera and HANSON!
4. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
It has been reported that ‘The Christmas Song’ was written in the middle of summer by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé as they tried to think of ways they could stave off the blistering heat. The songwriters theorised that by visualising the icy chill of winter, they could fool themselves into feeling cool. After 40 minutes of inspiration, one of the greatest Christmas songs of all was born. It makes us feel us cozy and warm – so the opposite of the intended effect, but who cares; this song IS Christmas.
5. Those Soulful Jingle Bells – Mark Whitfield
Mark Whitfield is a popular American jazz guitarist from New York. He has been the bandleader for Warner Bros Records and Verve record label, working with many prominent and legendary jazz performers. This soulful version of jingle bells is an excellent alternative to more traditional (and sometimes slightly childish) versions of the song.
6. Count Your Blessings – Barry Manilow
‘In The Swing Of Christmas’ by Barry Manilow was released in 2007 and was the singer’s third Christmas album. ‘Count Your Blessings’ features on this album and was written by Irving Berlin for the movie White Christmas. As a result of this, it is usually played at Christmas time, even though there are no lyrics in the song that actually refer to any festive activities or December or Christmas. However, it’s still a captivating, slow jazzy song that fits nicely into this playlist.
7. Wintertime – Norah Jones
‘Wintertime’ is a seasonal, slow blues song by Norah Jones which was released earlier this year. It’s instantly recognisable as being sung by Jones, with its opening chords bringing the song ‘Turn Me On’ to mind. Jones had been named the top jazz artist of the 2000-2009 decade by Billboard and has sold over 50 million records worldwide. With a jazz title as prominent as that she had to appear on our jazz Christmas list, (and she might be making a couple more appearances too!)
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Michael Bublé
While Michael Bublé has songs that can be played all year round, he seems to magically appear in everyone’s lives at Christmas. This is because he is incredibly well known for his Christmas album, Christmas, which was released in 2011. This jazz and swing album features an array of popular festive hits, including ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. We love this big band version of the song, along with the rest of his album, and all his other work as well. Basically, we just really love Michael Bublé.
9. Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Seth MacFarlane and Norah Jones
Seth MacFarlane and Norah Jones recorded ‘Little Jack Frost Get Lost’ for the album ‘Holiday For Swing’. Featuring a 65-piece orchestra and big band and swing renditions of some lesser-known Christmas songs, this album is a great choice if you want a break from the more overplayed Christmas hits. ‘Little Jack Frost Get Lost’ is a short song, only running for 2 minutes and 34 seconds, with the jazzy melodies and charming vocals making it incredibly catchy.
10. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan
‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser. This is another one of those “Christmas” songs where there aren’t actually any mentions of the holiday, but it does have a winter theme. It was originally written for Hollywood parties in the 1940s. Back in those days, big stars were expected to perform at any party they attended. Loesser and his wife performed the song at the end of the night, indicating to guests it was time to leave. So basically, the song is a polite way of telling everyone to go home. Ella Fitzgerald recorded her version of the song in 1949 with Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.
11. ‘Zat You, Santa Claus? – Louis Armstrong
‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’ was recorded by Louis Armstrong with The Commanders in 1953. The song has a somewhat sinister feel to it and gives us vibes of A Nightmare Before Christmas which was released in 1994. With a sharp trumpet and a tempo that makes you feel like someone is sneaking around, this is one of the more unusual and less festive Christmas songs on our list.
12. A Marshmallow World – Seth MacFarlane
‘A Marshmallow World’ was first a success for Bing Crosby but has since had multiple covers released. This version by Seth MacFarlane features on his previously mentioned album, ‘Holiday For Swing’. The lyrics describe a dreamy winter wonderland landscape covered in snow, something we all wish for at Christmas. We love this swing band version with its smooth vocals and upbeat tempo.
13. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
Another Michael Bublé hit, ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is an upbeat version of the popular song which features a soulful guitar solo in the middle. The original version featured on the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer soundtrack in 1964 and was sung by Burl Ives.
14. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
‘White Christmas’ was released by Bing Crosby on his 1945 Christmas album, Merry Christmas. This song is often considered to be his signature number and is one of the best-selling songs of all time, with over 50 million copies being bought worldwide. Originally written by Irving Berlin in 1942, the song describes an old-fashion, traditional Christmas and everything perfect about it. Crosby’s version of the song has been ranked second on a list of ‘Songs Of The Century,’ being beaten by Judy Garland’s Over The Rainbow for the top spot.
15. Christmas In New Orleans – Louis Armstrong and Benny Carter
We believe this is one of the finest jazz Christmas songs out there. ‘Christmas In New Orleans’ was written by Joseph Van Winkle and Richard Sherman and released by Louis Armstrong in 1955. The song takes you on a jazz journey, from quieter moments of just vocals and keys to the impact of a full horn section and vibrant harmonies.
16. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams
‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ is one of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time. Written in triple time (an uncommon feature for jazz, we know) this song may slightly push our swing, jazz, blues theme, but it had to appear on here at some point! The song was released by Andy Williams in 1963 for his first Christmas album. The song is a celebration of Christmas and all the activities and events that come along with it, focusing mainly on coming together with family and friends.
17. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra has to be played at Christmas time, and with multiple albums and compilations of his festive songs around today you will be spoilt for choice! ‘I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm’ was written by Irvin Berlin in 1937 for the musical film ‘On The Avenue’. This heart-warming song oozes festive vibes and is Christmas song that isn’t overplayed on the radios and in every shop you go into over the festive season.
18. Christmas Time Is Here – Barry Manilow
Another slower Christmas song, ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ by Barry Manilow is smooth, classy and makes for easy listening. The song was originally written in 1965 for the Charlie Brown Christmas TV Special. It became a hit and had two official versions released, before being covered first by jazz guitarist Ron Escheté. 25 years later, this swing version was released by Manilow, which followed Escheté’s slow and soft vibe for the song.
19. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Stephen Scott
This jazzy version of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is from Verve Records’ album ‘Let It Swing: A Jazz Christmas With Verve’. Stephen Scott is an accomplished jazz pianist who performs this song wonderfully on the keys, with it being unrecognisable in parts due to the free-styling and dramatic twists and turns the song takes. This lively rendition would fit in perfectly at any Christmas drinks reception or get together.
20. Silver Bells – Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett is a big band, jazz and traditional pop standards singer from America. ‘Silver Bells’ appears on the album ‘A Swingin’ Christmas’ which features Bennett singing with the Count Basie Big Band. The album received a Grammy Award nomination and has become a Christmas favourite for many. ‘Silver Bells’ is another one of those incredibly popular festive hits that has hundreds of covers by different artists. We love this swing version by Bennett, with its dreamy keys and mellow base.
21. Peace – Norah Jones
Next we have another Norah Jones song. ‘Peace’ is a composition by Horace Silver from 1959 and has become a jazz standard. Jones released her version of the song in 2001 and then again in 2016. This is a slow and peaceful jazz song, with stunning melodies and harmonies, which Jones performs beautifully.
22. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer – Ella Fitzgerald
This is Ella Fitzgerald’s third appearance on this list, and with her being the queen of jazz there really is no question why! This version of ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’ is simple yet sophisticated. The original version of the song was released in 1949 and was based on the 1939 story of the same name. Other famous covers of this song beside Ella Fitzgerald’s are by Bing Crosby, Burl Ives and Alvin and the Chipmunks.
23. Jingle Bells – Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
We couldn’t leave this iconic collaboration out of our playlist. Bing Crosby released his version of ‘Jingle Bells’ with The Andrews Sisters in 1945 on his Christmas compilation, Merry Christmas. The album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and is the second best-selling Christmas album of all time. Elvis Presley holds the top spot with Elvis’ Christmas Album. ‘Jingle Bells’ is one of the most commonly sung songs around the world today and was the first song to be broadcast from space – there is a random and really useless fact for you.
24. Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong
‘Cool Yule’ is another song by Louis Armstrong and The Commanders. Definitely less unnerving than ‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’, this song is a loud and groovy jazz Christmas tune that you could easily dance along to. With Armstrong’s iconic vocals and the trumpet section leading the way through the song, this is a classic Christmas jazz hit that we think should be played more often!
25. Blue Christmas – Michael Bublé
There are so many great versions of the song ‘Blue Christmas.’ This rhythm and blues song has become a staple Christmas song, even though the lyrics aren’t the happiest. While the Elvis Presley version is definitely up there as being one of the best, when it comes to jazz Christmas music Michael Bublé takes the top spot for us. We love the passion and enthusiasm he puts into his performance, along with the energy radiating from the musicians and backing singers.
26. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
‘Run Rudolph Run’ is a rock n roll classic, but it is a 12-bar blues song as well which means we can justify featuring it on this playlist! It fits so perfectly alongside all these other songs that we had to include it, and its upbeat tempo means it’s another song you can dance too when you get a little merry. The most famous version of this song was released by Chucky Berry in 1958, with celebrities including Cee Lo Green, Kelly Clarkson and Billy Idol all having covered the song.
27. Let It Snow – Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton is an American singer-songwriter who performed hard rock and heavy metal music at the start of his career. He then moved onto the pop-rock ballads for which he is most famous, followed by swing music later on in his life. A Swinging Christmas was released in 2007 and featured 10 Christmas swing songs, including ‘Let It Snow.’ The lyrics are about being cosy and content at home whilst it’s snowing and cold outside. It has a romantic vibe to it, describing a tender and passionate winter romance blossoming by the fire.
28. It’s Not Christmas ‘Til You Come Home – Norah Jones
Our final Norah Jones song, ‘It’s Not Christmas ‘Til You Come Home’ has a balance of romance and sadness. All the lyrics revolve around how Christmas won’t start till a certain loved one is home: “The sleigh bells won’t ring, Bing Crosby won’t sing, it’s not Christmas till you come home.”
29. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
‘Mistletoe And Holly’ was written by Frank Sinatra and Dok Stanford in 1957 and appeared on the album A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra. This was Sinatra’s first full-length Christmas album, and it went down a treat with his legions of fans.
30. The Christmas Waltz – Tony Bennett
We are ending our jazzy Christmas playlist with ‘The Christmas Waltz’ sung by Tony Bennett. Originally written for Frank Sinatra in 1954 after he insisted he wanted a Christmas song, it has been covered by numerous artists including Bing Crosby, Barry Manilow, John Travolta, Susan Boyle and of course, Tony Bennett. It could be considered to be the first Christmas waltz and has beautiful lyrics about all the wonderful things found at Christmas time.
We hope this jazz, blues and swing Christmas song list gives you lots of inspiration for your festive playlists. Perfect for every occasion, whether that’s a cosy night in wrapping presents or an elegant festive drinks reception, you can easily add a touch of class to your evening with these songs. Jazz music is a great alternative to more commonly played (and overplayed) Christmas songs. After all, with a whole month (and the rest) of Christmas tunes being played nearly everywhere you go, you are going to want some variation.