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Hear Marcia Ball, Joanne Brackeen, Abelita Mateus and Helen Sung on NPR's 'A Jazz Piano Christmas'

Jati Lindsay
Courtesy of the Kennedy Center
Abelita Mateus, Joanne Brackeen, Helen Sung and Marcia Ball were this year's A Jazz Piano Christmas guests.

What are the holidays without Charlie Brown? Nowadays, the quietly elegant and celebratory recordings by pianist Vince Guaraldi have become as much a part of the holidays as the sound of unwrapping presents. And every year we are treated to at least one interpretation of that classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by one of the pianists on NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas. This year is no exception.

In fact, listening to our annual show every from the host podium, it's amazing how the music originally meant for the lovable Peanuts characters has become as integral as other classics.

Our guests this year bear this out: Abelita Mateus, Helen SungMarcia Ball and NEA Jazz Master Joanne Brackeen create an intimate and toe-tapping meditation on peace and the holidays with tinges of Brazil (Mateus), Louisiana (Ball), classical music (Sung) and good old-fashioned swing (Brackeen).

Holidays are indeed time for family, tradition and jazz.