CSOTD 12/9/16: Jimmy Stewart smiling at me

In several of my Christmas Songs of the Day from past years, I mentioned the influence that the Minneapolis radio station Cities 97 had on broadening my holiday music experience. Here’s yet another one that I first heard a few years ago on that station’s 24 Hours of Christmas program. (As a re-introduction: From 6 pm Christmas Eve to 6 pm Christmas Day, Cities 97 played the most varied and eclectic collection of holiday music one would ever hear in a 24-hour period. I don’t know if the station still does it, as I haven’t been to the Twin Cities for Christmas since 2010.)

Mindi Abair (born 1969) has come a long way from her early years in the music industry, when she played saxophone and sang backing vocals on a 1997 Adam Sandler album. She also served as the Backstreet Boys’ sax and keyboard player on their Millennium World Tour of 1999-2000. Where she has made her mark, however, is in the oft-maligned “smooth jazz” genre. In 2003, she signed with the revived Verve Records label and issued her first major-label effort, It Just Happens That Way, which became a fairly big hit in contemporary jazz circles. Her next released recording, from 2004, is my Christmas Song of the Day for December 9.

In “I Can’t Wait for Christmas,” Abair is thrilled to be by herself. This doesn’t seem to be a permanent status; after all, there are presents under the tree, and unless she wrapped them to give to herself, she’s expecting someone to be there to open them, eventually. But not tonight: She’s by the fire, sipping some wine, listening to “Santa Baby” and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. She decorated the tree and even made some snow angels. And she couldn’t be happier.

Abair makes singleness sound like the sexiest status on earth. “I Can’t Wait for Christmas” just smolders, vocally and instrumentally, and I’m happy to share this with you today. She has re-recorded the song since 2004, but this is the original and best version.



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