Putumayo is known for their fun, uplifting collections of music from around the world, and their Christmas CDs offer just that, with a seasonal flair. From traditional international Christmas songs to fun interpretations of modern Christmas classics, the Putumayo Christmas CDs (a new one of which is released each year) are all great little collections which make wonderful stocking stuffers or hostess gifts during the holiday season.
Putumayo took a Celtic turn with their 2011 collection. If it's traditional Christmas carols you seek, you'll like this one: the majority of the songs are well-known carols performed with an Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or even Manx twist, rather than obscure traditional tunes from the Celtic nations. This album is a generally mellow one, better for a quiet Christmas celebration than a raucous one.
- Aine Minogue - "Manx Jezebel Carol"
- Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaol - "White Christmas" ("Nollaig Bhan")
- Dougie MacLean - "Auld Lang Syne"
The title is no mistake: this is music for a party. International covers of Christmas pop hits is the name of the game with this compilation, which spans an immense variety of genres with alacrity and aplomb. If you prefer classic carols, this is not the compilation for you, but if you like things upbeat and modern, it's the ideal choice.
- Charles Brown - "Christmas Comes but Once A Year"
- Alison Brown Quartet with Joe Craven - "Carol and the Kings"
- H.K. Crew featuring Kina - "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" ("Kei Te Haere Mai A Hana Koko")
Putumayo CDs are always family-friendly, in the "Rated G" sense, but this CD in particular is kid-focused, with lots of songs about Santa Claus, sleigh rides, and other themes that delight the little ones. It's plenty parent-friendly, too, of course, making it an ideal choice for a holiday-time family road trip.
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - "Zat You, Santa Claus?"
- Brave Combo - "Jolly Old Saint Nick"
- Sam Bush - "Sleigh Ride"
Again, the title of this one is fairly self-explanatory. It draws from the enormous library of jazz, blues, swing, soul, R&B, and jazz-pop Christmas repertoire that's been recorded over the years, and features lots of well-known names, plus a few lesser-known but excellent singers and players. It's a pretty failsafe album that's hard not to like, even for the hardest-headed Scrooges.
The most micro-specific of all of Putumayo's current Christmas albums, and also one of the best, Putumayo Presents New Orleans Christmas is pretty much a guaranteed win as a soundtrack to anything from a fancy holiday wine and cheese party to a down-home family celebration. Bonus points if you make gumbo. The best part? A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this records benefit Habitat For Humanity's Musician's Village rebuilding project. Win-win!
- James Andrews - "Christmas in New Orleans"
- John Boutte - "White Christmas"
- New Birth Brass Band - "Santa's Second Line"
This Putumayo Christmas album is sort of a modern classic, as far as Christmas compilations go, and remains a favorite at holiday-time. The most sweeping of the albums on this list, Christmas Around the World features artists from several countries and traditions, though most of them are performing what we'd think of as Christmas standards, not unique songs from various cultures. It's a lovable, listenable album that really evokes a jolly Christmas spirit.
- New York Twoubadou - "Joyeux Noel"
- Michael Doucet - "We Three Kings"
- Ramon F. Veloz - "Paz en la Tierra" ("Joy to the World")