I was seriously tempted to call this post THE OFFICIAL JAZZ LIVES HOLIDAY MUSIC RESCUE KIT, but maybe some readers like the new hip-hop FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, so who am I to get in the way of pleasure? Leaving aside THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, I have no argument with the songs themselves, but the current performances strike me as the aural equivalent of instant oatmeal with too much hot water mixed in. (And this blogpost had its start in a large Boston hotel lobby with Christmas music everywhere, so I am not writing it in isolation.)
So I was thrilled to stumble over this gem (thanks to Lin McPhillips on Facebook) and am very happy to share it with you. It’s hip but not self-conscious, and the playing is superb, ensembles, arrangements, and solos. The performances are compact — perhaps with hopes of AM radio airplay so that these would become a hit — but these wonderful musicians pack so much music into eight or sixteen bars that no one went away wishing for JATP-length excursions.
Here’s the discographical listing:
A Cool Yuletide : Urbie Green and his All-Stars : Joe Wilder (tp) Urbie Green (tb) Al Cohn (ts) Al Epstein (bar) Buddy Weed (p) Mundell Lowe (g) Milt Hinton (b) Jimmy Crawford (d-1) Don Lamond (d-2) Charlie Shirley (arr)
New York, 1954
E4LB5118 Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (1) “X” LXA3026
E4LB5119 Christmas song (1) –
E4LB5120 I saw mama kissing Santa Claus (1) –
E4LB5121 Santa Claus is coming to town (1) –
E4LB5122 White Christmas (2) –
E4LB5123 Jingle bells (2) –
E4LB5124 My two front teeth (2) –
E4LB5125 Winter wonderland (2) –
and the music. To some listeners, this will not be a “pure jazz” recording of the type issued then by Verve, Savoy, or Prestige — more “middle of the road” or “businessman’s bounce.” But the solos are jewels, and Charlie Shirley’s arrangements pack so much music into those short (by our standards) selections.
RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:
THE CHRISTMAS SONG:
I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS:
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN:
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH):
and something for those who crave the best possible sound:
I only go the mall these days under the most serious duress, but were I walking through one and I heard this, I would be delighted and astonished: such good and vibrant music.
May your happiness increase!