"A Merry Christmas," Stan Kenton


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Since we are well into Christmas season, I thought I would post two tracks from one of my favorite Christmas albums: "A Merry Christmas" (1961) by the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Here is some info about this classic album:

When bandleader Stan Kenton was approached to record an album of holiday music in 1961 he agreed, on one condition -- no songs about singing snowmen or flying reindeer. The resulting album, A Merry Christmas, is a polyphonic masterpiece that is at once progressive and traditional. Included are such well-known classics as "O Tannenbaum" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as well as lesser known gems like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Once in Royal David's City." Featuring Kenton's idiosyncratic style of arranging piercing trumpets over a wooly blanket of trombones and mellophones, this is beautiful, forward-thinking and angular music that addresses both complex classical harmony and Basie-style swing. Epitomizing this is the intricate and delicate harmonic dissonance on "O Come, All Ye Faithful," a must-hear for Kentonites. ~ Matt Collar

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If others can locate some of their favorite Xmas tunes on Youtube, I would very much like to hear them. I'm a big fan of the genre.

Ghs

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A track from another favorite Xmas album of mine: "Six String Santa" (1992), featuring jazz great Joe Pass on lead guitar.

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Ghs

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A track from another favorite Xmas album of mine: "Six String Santa" (1992), featuring jazz great Joe Pass on lead guitar.

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Ghs

You have wonderful musical taste(s), George. :)

It's not officially Holiday music, but along with all these of yours would maybe be Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." I find myself listening to that one around the season.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I6xkVRWzCY

It is a rather distorted recording, this live one, but still. I think the only one that eclipsed it was "A Love Supreme." There is an excellent interview in the August 2010 issue of "Jazz Times" magazine--John McLaughlin talking about that. He says a lot, but here is a bit, he is talking about the homily/prayer Coltrane wrote. . .

"Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts, fears and emotions-time-all related...all made from one...all made in one," Coltrane wrote on the inside cover of his gatefold album. On the inside back cover of his 2010 CD, McLaughlin wrote, "From time to time, I have had glimpses of the indescribable loveliness of the infinite one. We can never be apart from the infinite oneness even though we may be unaware of this unity."

Edited by Rich Engle
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Rich,

"Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo" (with Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra) is terrific. I looked it up on Wiki and found this touching background story:

Paul O'Neill explained the story behind Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 in an interview published on ChristianityToday.com:[1]

... We heard about this cello player born in Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city in complete ruins.

I think what most broke this man's heart was that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time, Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and Beethoven as the city was bombed.

He came every night and began playing Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of humanity was still alive in that place.

The song basically wrapped itself around him. We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find, like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells" (which is from Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra represents one side, the rock band the other, and single cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.

I like the McLachian number as well. As for Coltrane -- well, I've been listening to him, on and off, since my early high school days, and I have many of his albums. Although I like the earlier stuff he did with Miles Davis, I still have mixed reactions to his later ventures into "modal jazz." Moreover, the soprano sax is one of my least favorite jazz instruments. In short, I need to be in the right mood, and 8:30 in the morning, having just walked my dog in freezing weather, doesn't put me in the right mood. :lol: I'll listen to it again tonight.

In a more traditional vein but quite original, here is pianist David Lanz, from "Christmas Eve" (1994):

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Although the following isn't Xmas music, this is my favorite number by David Lanz. Anyone who likes Pachelbel will probably like this:

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Please post more Xmas music that you like. I encourage others to do the same.

Ghs

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The incomparable Paul Desmond (alto sax) playing "Greensleeves" with the Modern Jazz Quartet. Recorded live on Christmas Day, 1971, in NYC.

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Ghs

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Two jazz legends, Gerry Mulligan and Dave Brubeck, play a delightful version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

I just uploaded this tune to YouTube. It does not appear on any of the albums that Mulligan and Brubeck recorded together; it seems to have been an afterthought to one of their recording sessions. It does appear on several Xmas jazz anthologies, however. I got it from a collection titled "Jazzy Christmas."

Our own Roger Bissell once said that Mulligan "oozed musicality." I couldn't have put it better myself.

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Ghs

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Since we are well into Christmas season, I thought I would post two tracks from one of my favorite Christmas albums: "A Merry Christmas" (1961) by the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Here is some info about this classic album:

When bandleader Stan Kenton was approached to record an album of holiday music in 1961 he agreed, on one condition -- no songs about singing snowmen or flying reindeer. The resulting album, A Merry Christmas, is a polyphonic masterpiece that is at once progressive and traditional. Included are such well-known classics as "O Tannenbaum" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as well as lesser known gems like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Once in Royal David's City." Featuring Kenton's idiosyncratic style of arranging piercing trumpets over a wooly blanket of trombones and mellophones, this is beautiful, forward-thinking and angular music that addresses both complex classical harmony and Basie-style swing. Epitomizing this is the intricate and delicate harmonic dissonance on "O Come, All Ye Faithful," a must-hear for Kentonites. ~ Matt Collar

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If others can locate some of their favorite Xmas tunes on Youtube, I would very much like to hear them. I'm a big fan of the genre.

Ghs

George:

Looks like 1961 was a good year for Christmas Music - I heard this last night ...Jingle Bells performed by Count Basie at NYC's Birdland:

Merry Christmas everyone

Adam

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George:

Looks like 1961 was a good year for Christmas Music - I heard this last night ...Jingle Bells performed by Count Basie at NYC's Birdland:

[video deleted]

Merry Christmas everyone

Adam

Terrific Basie tune. Thanks for posting it.

This Xmas video is one of my favorites. It features a 1954 version of "White Christmas" by The Drifters.

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Ghs

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George:

Looks like 1961 was a good year for Christmas Music - I heard this last night ...Jingle Bells performed by Count Basie at NYC's Birdland:

[video deleted]

Merry Christmas everyone

Adam

Terrific Basie tune. Thanks for posting it.

This Xmas video is one of my favorites. It features a 1954 version of "White Christmas" by The Drifters.

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Ghs

Good piece George:

Almost that it was Bing Crosby's crooned notes in a few spots1

Thanks.

Adam

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I posted a couple tunes by David Lanz before. Here is another very romantic tune, "Cristofori's Dream," that he both wrote and performed. Great stuff. as the late Roy Childs used to say.

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Ghs

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I posted a couple tunes by David Lanz before. Here is another very romantic tune, "Cristofori's Dream," that he both wrote and performed. Great stuff. as the late Roy Childs used to say.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wxrB41PMhw?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wxrB41PMhw?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wxrB41PMhw?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Ghs

Beautifully powerful, plaintive and haunting.

Thanks

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little drummer boy always did it for me, altho i don't recall whose version of it I liked best.

It probably isn't this version.

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As I write this on Xmas Eve, I see that 27 people are logged on to OL. It seems that I am not the only person with no life around here.

Ghs

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little drummer boy always did it for me, altho i don't recall whose version of it I liked best.

It probably isn't this version.

<object width="560" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiOwX5G7OpY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiOwX5G7OpY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiOwX5G7OpY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>

As I write this on Xmas Eve, I see that 27 people are logged on to OL. It seems that I am not the only person with no life around here.

Ghs

Lol...

No, my whole house is sound asleep because we had our Christmas Day Dinner today because three of the four of us are working tomorrow lol.

Adam

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Folks:

Not a Christmas Song, but it is about the best Christmas present we all get every year...

Merry Christmas my fellow Americans...

Adam

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