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World Christmas Party CD Review by Wendy Jung

Putumayo World Music
28 W. 25th St., 5th Fl
New York, NY 10010

I love Christmas music of all kinds. We have a rule around our house, made by my husband, that Christmas music is not allowed to be played until after Thanksgiving. Guess what I listen to while washing the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner each year? Yes, I love Christmas music.

World Christmas Party, produced by Putumayo World Music, is a CD with 12 different interpretations of a wide variety of traditional Christmas songs. The music is from several genres, including jazz, Hawaiian, reggae, Latin (as in from Latin countries, not the Latin language of old), and African. The songs range from "The Christmas Song" to "Winter Wonderland" to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." An overwhelming majority of the songs have vocals, but there are a few instrumental pieces tucked in for good measure.

The glossy CD cover includes a 14-page insert (written in English, Spanish, and French) that introduces each of the artists on the recording. The descriptions also give a short explanation as to the musical influences and history of each song.

The music on this CD is very upbeat, with lots of wonderful rhythms that were new to me, especially in a Christmas song. The first time I listened to the CD, my younger kids all came running, and a small, impromptu dance party broke out right there in the kitchen. My oldest son is a pretty serious guitar student. While he didn't dance, he very much enjoyed some of the guitar parts in the Latin and jazz songs. My personal favorites were a Hawaiian version of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree," sung by two women with some of the smoothest voices I've ever heard, and "The Carol and the Kings," a guitar/banjo instrumental medley of "Carol of the Bells" and "We Three Kings."

Even with my great affection for music of the season, I've never spent much time listening to Christmas music from other countries and cultures. World Christmas Party was a great introduction. The songs on the CD were different from the Christmas songs I was used to, but not so different that I couldn't recognize them. Instead, they were just different enough to make me listen more closely and try to envision what Christmas might look like on a beach in the Caribbean or at a fiesta in South America.

Product review by Wendy Jung, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2011