The liner notes imply that this is the Christmas album Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli might have made, had they made one. Certainly the The Hot Club of San Francisco is a virtuosic group that specializes in conjuring that era (see their masterful Bohemian Maestro for a recent example). But there's a wealth of delicious humor here that goes beyond anything that legendary pair ever produced.
For instance, check out the inspired derangement of "Djingle Bells," and "Don Rudolfo" (as in Red-Nosed Reindeer), a sultry tango that ultimately flows into the "Habanera" from "Carmen" (honest). There's also a red-hot "Sugar Rum Cherry" that swings the Nutcracker into a whole new orbit. Yet just when you get used to a jovial ride, the Hot Club throws out a gorgeous string arrangement of "I Wonder As I Wander," getting serious about the season. And there are still more surprises to come, although it would be like giving away a movie plot to describe them all.
One thing is sure: however you deck your halls with music - whether you dig out that dusty stack of CDs, or cue your Yuletide playlist - this collection is so different from anything else that it's likely to make your guests pause, nogs in midair, to ask what it is. And you don't even have to answer: just show them the CD cover, where Santa drives a gypsy caravan instead of a sleigh. Brilliant and delightful!
Track Listing: Cool Yule; Don Rodolfo; Carol of the Bells; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Baby, It's Cold Outside; Djingle Bells; Sugar Rum Cherry; I Wonder as I Wander; March of the Toys; The Christmas Song; Santa Claus is Coming to Town; Auld Lang Syne.
Personnel: Paul "Pazzo" Mehling: solo guitar, baritone guitar, vocals; Clint Baker: string bass, trumpet; Evan "Zeppo" Price: violin, octave violin (acoustic and electric); Jeff Magidson: rhythm guitar, bass, vocal; Jason "Jubilation" Vanderford: rhythm guitar.
Guests: Isabelle Fontaine, The Cool Yule Philharmonic, Pazzo and the Hotheads, Le Jazz Hot Trio, Duo Gadjo, The Ivory Club Boys, the Cool Yule Philharmonic All-Stars.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.