JazzBabies, old Jack Frost has been making the rounds this week and may have touched down in your neighborhood. It’s that time of year although winter is officially ten days away as I write.
This year, I detect a bit more of a rush than usual to launch ourselves into the holidays. Maybe we need respite from the drain of the elections and the drama that just won’t seem to stop. Maybe we want reminders of happy memories or the chance to create good new memories. Maybe it’s because snow has already fallen in a lot of places where it usually doesn’t, at least until January or February.
Or maybe we just want candy canes!
Whatever the reason, here we are. I’m still resisting the urge to include flat-out Christmas music yet, but I did find some jazzy seasonal numbers to stir into the mix this time. So without further ado, pull up a chair and see what’s happening at JazzCookie’s place.
First, I do want to acknowledge the weather which surprised friends in several places. There’s nothing quite as pretty as a first snowfall, before it turns to gray slush and you have to pull out the shovels or slide your way to work. Best thing for a snowfall is a snug place, a hot toddy, fresh popcorn, and possibly the Ray Brown Trio from a 1994 Telarc album Santa’s Bag: An All-Star Jazz Christmas. Lots of good tunes here from different jazz cats. So, throw another log on the fire and give a listen to Ray and the guys on “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.” (But be careful what you wish for…) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k88beNeImyw
I was watching a few videos of master jazz guitarist John Stowell recently and came across this next clip, a 2013 recording of a Tom Jobim classic from sunny Brazil. John is recognized around the globe as a master player and clinician totally dedicated to his music and respected by musicians for his unique style, creativity and just plain class as a human being. As Herb Ellis once said, “More guitarists would play like John Stowell if they knew how.” John and I have been friends for more than twenty years and he’s helped shape my own creative life with inspiration and dedication. Watch and listen here to John on “Brigas Nunca Mais.” It’s a master class with the master. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o3aDo_k7Ho
A friend who is not a jazz fan but who knows me well sent a link last week that’s apparently making the rounds again. You may have seen it, but I had not and in case you haven’t either, here’s a little change of pace with the very jazzy 2014 World War II Holiday Tribute as performed by the US Air Force Band at Union Station in Washington D.C. There’s nothing I can say, but “Enjoy! Everybody else is!” A big and snappy salute to Colonel Larry Lang, Commander and Conductor. Sir, we thank you for your service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khQN5ylb3H0
JazzBabies, I consider John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Arthur Taylor one of the sweetest collections of musicians ever brought together. Every creative person – musician, artist, writer, actor, dancer, whatever – knows that there are times when you’re good and then there are times when something ineffable happens and everything flows in a way nobody could really have imagined. This group, on this tune, satisfies my every desire for that ineffable musical moment. “Time after Time,” was recorded December 26, 1958, for Coltrane’s Stardust album, released by Prestige Records in 1963. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsJVYryqIFI
I always think about New York in December. My first visit happened on December 9, 1981, after I flew from Portland, Oregon to Boston, then bused it up to Connecticut for business and took a town car back to Manhattan, eyes wide open all the way – a big trip for a small town girl from Idaho. Manhattan took my breath away and yet, after all the movies I’d watched, I felt surprisingly at home on the sidewalks of New York. As luck would have it, I hit Rockefeller Center just as they were lighting the tree overlooking the ice rink. Could my first visit to the Big Apple have been any better? No, no, and no. So at this time of year, New York is on my mind. And it might be on Diane Schuur’s mind, too. I’ll let her take over here from her 1995 Best of Diane Schuur album, “New York State of Mind.” I’ll bet Billy Joel likes this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEJ2tUw_yi0
And that’s a wrap for this time, JazzBabies. Please remember, amid all the sales and holiday hype (yes, we have that, too) to remember the lesson we learned from the Grinch: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.” Take a little time to sit quietly, count your blessings no matter how few or far between, hug somebody you love, smile at strangers, drop a ha’penny in the old man’s hat, and sing along with every holiday song you hear!
Know that you’re loved, JazzBabies, every one of you…
Ciao and cheers,