Is the sun down yet? I think it is. It's Christmas Eve AND the first night of Hanukkah. How cool is that? I've been hoarding videos over the past month or so. We'll get to all those a cappella groups. But I'm going to start right off with my pick of the best new Hanukkah recording of the year. Unfortunately, it isn't available for purchase or download, which I think is just a shame.
This song comes to us from The Gibbonses. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because they gave us a fine "Merry Christmas Baby" last year (still free at their website, by the way). I think its safe to say they've topped that this year. The Texas based husband and wife couple play Roots music of all kinds, so I just say they're Americana. Last year's holiday spin was a soulful strut and, this year, they're giving us something we get far too little of--a Country Hanukkah song.
As it happens, this is "THE Hanukkah Song", the one Adam Sandler gave us on SNL. But The Gibbonses do the best version I've ever heard. Better than Adam, even. And that's because they treat it like a real song, not a cute throwaway, and they wrote lyrics that aren't just a list of Jewish people (though there's a little of that). The video is great, too, but you can only see it at their Facebook page. But we can post the stream, and that's what we're gonna do.
I have a pretty good Hanukkah library at this point because I work at it. I also happen to love Jazz. I love good Jazz. And I love good Hanukkah Jazz. There's some out there. Some very serious and deeply cultural. And some just swings. We got a new Hanukkah album this year from the Eyal Vilner Big Band. And it's a winner. When Kenny Ellis cut "Hanukkah Swings" in 2005, he got a lot of press. So did Erran Baron Cohen in 2010 with "Songs In The Key of Hanukkah". I've barely seen any mention of "Hanukkah" from the Eyal Vilner Big Band. And it's a great record--harkening back to the glory days of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, The Boswell Sisters...but it's Hanukkah music. If you're building a library of Hanukkah music across the genres, I think this is one you should get. You'll find it at CD Baby (Amazon only has the digital). Here's the familiar "Sevivon" done Big Band style and featuring the flute of Itai Kriss.