Acclaimed jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton delivers a swinging holiday album: Merry & Bright. Hamilton reunites with his trio, featuring bassist Jon Hamar and pianist Tamir Hendelman, for Merry & Bright, a recording of Hamilton’s favorite Christmas tunes. “I’ve always enjoyed holiday music and have been planning on doing a Christmas project for many years. I finally did it during the pandemic and got my trio into the studio to record it direct to 2 track, like I used to. We were very happy with the outcome. We put together these arrangements and got the recording done in only a few hours.” The tunes were selected from Hamilton’s memories growing up in a family where everyone gathered around the piano and sang Christmas tunes in four-part harmony. It was a time when Andy Williams’ version of “It’s the Holiday Season” was on the radio and turntables were everywhere in America. Two of the pieces, “Caroling Caroling” and “Bright, Bright the Holly Berries” he learned from The Singers Unlimited, whose textured vocal harmonies were reminiscent of Hamilton’s evenings singing with the family. Hamar and Hendelman open “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the spirit of the original, somewhat melancholy version sung by Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Of course, Frank Sinatra’s version is one best remembered, as well as Mel Tormé’s, who wrote a beautiful new verse for the tune.