Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Jazz Songs

With the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to share some jazz Christmas songs.



Holiday Jazz Songs

1. Jingle Bells

This fun animated video illustrates the joy of the holidays, with the full big band sounds of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra leading the way. 

Watch this animated video of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra playing, "Jingle Bells":


2. Sugar Rum Cherry

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn arranged the Nutcracker ballet suite for jazz big band, taking familiar themes and rearranging them in new ways. 

Listen to Duke Ellington's "Sugar Rum Cherry":

3. White Christmas

Charlie Parker transforms this standard holiday song into a bebop style with the help of trumpeter Kenny Dorham and drummer Max Roach. 

Listen to Charlie Parker play, "White Christmas":

4. Sleigh Ride

Ella Fitzgerald makes every word count in this version of Sleigh Ride, by focusing on rhythm and accenting each vowel. 

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing, "Sleigh Ride":

5. Twas the Night Before Christmas

Wynton Marsalis narrates the classic Christmas story with musical accompaniment to help paint the picture of Santa Claus coming down the chimney, as if in a picture book.  

Watch Wynton Marsalis read the story with music accompaniment:

6. Joy to the World

Brubeck's harmonic sense and chordal motion helps to carve out a stirring version of Joy to the World, with bell-like improvisations. 

Listen to Dave Brubeck play, "Joy to the World":

7. Christmas in New Orleans

Louis Armstrong nostalgically sings and plays trumpet in a traditional New Orleans style to reflect on his roots.

Listen to Louis Armstrong With The Benny Carter Orchestra play "Christmas In New Orleans":

8. Snowfall 

Pianist Ahmad Jamal creates the imagery of snowflakes scattering through the air with his light touch and spiraling lines.

Listen to Ahmad Jamal play, "Snowfall":

9. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant joined forces with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to present this holiday classic in a sentimental way, bending and holding out syllables for emphasis. 

Listen to Cecile McLorin Salvant sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas":

10. Christmas Song

Vocalist Mel Torme, whose nickname was the "Velvet Frog," composed "Christmas Song." In this version, Torme's pure vocal tone narrates the story with a laid-back feel. 

Listen to Mel Torme sing "Christmas Song":

Final Thoughts: 
Have a happy holiday and a Merry Christmas! 

Please visit my jazz poetry blog, "Without a Poem", where I improvise a new poem everyday! I also share jazz music and art there, so stay tuned! 

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Since September 2015, I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer/ editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene. 

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