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The only artist on the comp I recognized by name was bluesman Jimmy Reed, who’s represented by the surprisingly funky “Christmas Present Blues.” Milly & Silly’s instrumental “Getting Down for Xmas” is a swaggering funk jam made seasonally appropriate with some sleigh bells and a few sly references to popular holiday melodies; the droning, appealingly amateurish “Home on Christmas Day,” by a group from Barbados called Captain Elmo McKenzie & the Roosters, gets over on raw sentiment. Most of the dozen tracks were released only as singles, often as B sides, and honestly if it weren’t for the holiday theme I probably wouldn’t have bothered listening to the whole disc. But I don’t ask as much from Christmas music as I do from my regular listening—I doubt many people do—and when you consider some of the other options out there, In the Christmas Groove looks pretty good.
Donny McCaslin, Declaration (Sunnyside)
Paquito Hechavarría, Frankly (Sony Music Latin)
Die Enttäuschung, Die Enttäuschung (Intakt)
Buika y Chucho, El Ultimo Trago (Warner Music Latino)
Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed)