Director's Cuts: The 2003 CD Gift Guide

Weekend Edition Sunday music director Ned Wharton presents his annual holiday gift guide, with the latest edition of "Director's Cuts." Suggestions include the Blind Boys of Alabama (left), whose new CD, Go Tell It On the Mountain, features vocals by Tom Wait, Chrissie Hynde and others.

Mexican Divas

The independent Mexican label Opción Sónica has amassed an impressive collection of Mexican pop singers outside the boundaries of Mexico's TV monopoly Televisa, which has dominated Mexican pop culture for years. Out of 3 previously-released volumes, they've been boiled down to a new release available in this country: The Best of Mexican Divas.

Listen: Otra Vez

Listen: Muni

Jaco Pastorius Big Band

Jaco Pastorus Big Band

hide captionWord of Mouth Revisited

Bandleader Peter Graves gathered a who's-who of electric bass players for this tribute to the late bass innovator Jaco Pastorius, who changed the instrument forever when he played with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and others. Word of Mouth Revisited features players including Jimmy Haslip, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller and Christian McBride.

Listen: Teen Town

Listen: Barbary Coast

A3

A3

hide captionPower In the Blood

If you've ever wondered about that driving groove that's heard at the top of each episode of The Sopranos, this is the group: A3. Known as Alabama 3 in their native London, and A3 here in the States, their CD, Power in the Blood, includes a bonus disc featuring an acoustic version of "Woke Up This Morning," the theme from The Sopranos.

Listen: Reachin'

Listen: Woke Up This Morning

The Shins

The Shins

hide captionChutes Too Narrow

This fresh pop from Albuquerque and transplanted to Portland, Ore., features an exuberant garage-y sound, thanks to the lo-fi tinge of the recording made in lead singer James Mercer's basement.

Listen: So Says I

Listen: Pink Bullets

Abayudaya

Abayudaya

hide captionAbayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda

In a small corner of eastern Uganda, the 600-member Abadayuda community has been combining Hebrew prayer with traditional music since their ancestors converted to Judaism in 1919.

Listen: Katonda Oyo Nalimana (God Is All-Knowing)

Listen: Mwana, Ngolera (Baby, Keep Quiet)

American Song-Poem Christmas

American Song-Poem Christmas

hide captionAmerican Song-Poem Christmas

Vanity recording outfits have for years been advertising to attract poets and closet musicians, offering (for a price) to set words to music. Many of these so-called "song-poems" have become collector's items. Bar/None Records has been compiling them lately, with a CD released earlier this year called Do You Know the Difference Between Big Wood and Brush. Now there's a holiday release: The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? with astonishing titles including "Santa Came On a Nuclear Missile," "How Do They Spend Christmas In Heaven" and "Santa Fix My Toys For Christmas."

Listen: Santa Came on a Nuclear Missle

Listen: Rocking Disco Santa Claus

Kerry Getz

California singer-songwriter Kerry Getz says that when she was a kid, her older brother got an acoustic guitar from Santa, and while he was in school, Kerry would surreptitiously teach herself Christmas carols on the instrument. Today her CD, It's a Wonderful Life, on World in Motion Records shows off her full talents, with some Christmastime originals as well as rich folk-rock arrangements of lesser-performed carols such as "Lullay Lully" and "The Wexford Carol."

Listen: Lullay, Lully

Listen: Suspended in December

Blind Boys of Alabama

Blind Boys of Alabama

hide captionGo Tell It On the Mountain

The soulful Blind Boys of Alabama deliver rousing gospel and rich harmonies on this Christmas disc. They are backed by an eclectic roster of singers and players, including Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde, Richard Thompson, Solomon Burke and others.

Listen: Go Tell It on the Mountain

Listen: In the Bleak Midwinter

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Best of Mexican Divas

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  • Album: Best of Mexican Divas
  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Label: Opción Sónica
  • Released: 2003
 

Word of Mouth Revisited

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  • Album: Word of Mouth Revisited
  • Artist: Jaco Pastorius Big Band
  • Label: Heads Up
 

Power in the Blood

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  • Album: Power in the Blood
  • Artist: A3
  • Label: One Little Indian
  • Released: 2002
 

Power in the Blood [Bonus Disc]

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  • Album: Power in the Blood [Bonus Disc]
  • Artist: A3
  • Label: One Little Indian
  • Released: 2003
 

Chutes Too Narrow

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  • Album: Chutes Too Narrow
  • Artist: The Shins
  • Label: Sub Pop
 

Abayudaya - Music from the Jewish People of Uganda

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  • Album: Abayudaya - Music from the Jewish People of Uganda
  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
 

It's a Wonderful Life

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  • Album: It's a Wonderful Life
  • Artist: Kerry Getz
  • Label: World In Motion
 

Go Tell It on the Mountain

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  • Album: Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • Artist: Blind Boys of Alabama
  • Label: Real World
 

American Song-Poem Christmas

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  • Album: American Song-Poem Christmas
  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Label: Bar/None
  • Released: 2003
 

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