III. Christmas 2005: Something Strange...
Ich bin ein Berliner... This disc does not really belong here. There is nothing tongue-in-cheek about these completely professional and thoughtful big band arrangements of American seasonal classics. What makes them both fun and charming is trombonist's Joe Wulf's Anglo-Germanic singing of these familiar songs. For those of us of Anglo-Germanic extraction, the effect is a'70s flashback to Lawrence Welk and our grandparents praying the rosary in Deutsch. But I digress. The charts, particularly for "Oh Tannenbaum (Dixieland style), "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Samba style) demonstrate the depth and breadth of Wulf's talent for arranging. Wulf is not the only trombonist on the recording. Wulf has American stalwarts George Masso and Dan Barrett, both mainstays in the American Trad-Jazz scene, and Roy Williams on "I'll Be Home for Christmas. The big band is an international affair with members from Great Britian, Germany, and all parts abroad. Swinging Christmas is quaint and enjoyable holiday outing with an international flair.
Favored Nations Entertainment
Lest we forget the Judeo portion of our shared Judeo-Christian Heritage, no holiday collection would be complete without a Hanukkah offering. Big band vocalist by day and Cantor on Friday nights, Kenny Ellis skillfully melds his Jewish culture with the swing of Count Basie, Les Brown, and Benny Goodman. English, Yiddish, Hebrew... no language is safe in the hands of Maestro Ellis. Should the listener desire a true cultural nuclear reaction, he or she need look no further than "Sevivon, Sov, Sov, Sov a brilliant takeoff on Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing colliding with Cab Calloway's "Hi De Ho with every one wearing a yarmulke. "Children of the Macabbees updates the Jewish story of Maoz Tzur first notated by Benedetto Marcello in 1714. Ellis sings the body over a bass/drums duo, augmented by flute. "Rock of Ages begins in cantorial style before swinging its way to its Hebrew conclusion. This recording bubbles with enthusiasm and joy that occurs at no one's expense. There is much to learn from Cantor Kenny Ellis.
Track and Personnel Listings
Dig that Crazy Christmas
Tracks: Dig That Crazy Santa Claus; Angels We Have Heard On High; Gettin' In The Mood (For Christmas); White Christmas; Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; 'Zat You Santa Claus?; Hey Santa!; My Favorite Things; You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch; Cool Yule; Jingle Bell Rock; Santa Drives A Hot Rod; What Are You Doing New Year's Eve.
Personnel: Brian Setzer: vocals, guitar; unidentified big band.
We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
Tracks: Frosty The Snowman; Santa Bring My Baby Back; Jingle Bells; Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; Silver Bells; We Three Kings; Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy; Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer; Santa On The Roof; What A Child Is This; Pretty Paper; Winter Wonderland; Run Rudolph Run.
Personnel: Reverend Horton Heat: vocals, guitar, upright bass; Scott Churilla: vocals, drums; Jimbo Wallace: guitar, upright bass, background vocals.
Tracks: Joy To The World; Greensleeves; Jingle Bells; Carol Of The Bells; Broken Heart For Christmas; Angels We Have Heard On High; Winter Wonderland; Look Out For Angels; Silent Night; Goodbye; Christmas Song.
Personnel: Steve Lukather: guitar; and a cast of thousands.
Tracks: Santa Claus is Coming to Town; The Christmas Song; Oh Tannenbaum; The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot; Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Sleigh Ride; Winter Wonderland; Kling Glöckchen; Suzy Snowflake; Hark! The Herald Angels Sings; Jingle Bells; Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow; White Christmas.
Personnel: Joe Wulf: trombone, vocals; Terrence Ngassa: trumpet, vocals; Francois De Ribaupierre: clarinet, bass-clarinet, flute, alto sax, tenor sax; Chris Nemet, H, piano; Bert Thompson: bass; Will Lindfors: drums, percussion; featuring: Sean Moyses: banjo, guitar; Achim Schröter, clarinet, flute, alto-flute, altosax; Roy Williams, trombone; Dan Barrett: trombone; George Masso: trombone.
Tracks: Swingin' Dreidel; Medley: Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah/Who Can Retell; Hanukkah Candles; Sevivon, Sov, Sov, Sov; Ocho Kandelikas; Children Of The Macabbees; Medley: Hanukkah Swingin' Holiday/Pour the Oil; Hanu-calypso; Rock Of Ages; 'Twas the Night Before Hanukkah.
Personnel: Kenny Ellis: vocals; Mitch Holder: guitar; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet; Stu Goldberg: piano, keyboards, percussion. Recorded at Stu Goldberg Studios, Thousand Oaks, California.