‘Tis officially the season. Christmas is right around the corner and some music is starting to reflect that. You either love Christmas music, hate Christmas music, or totally ignore it, and I choose to love it.
‘Tis officially the season. Christmas is right around the corner and some music is starting to reflect that. You either love Christmas music, hate Christmas music, or totally ignore it, and I choose to love it. I’ve written a guide to new releases out this year that will be on RVANews, but not everybody records a whole album of seasonal material. Musicians often record only a few tracks, whether it’s for fun or to give out as a no-cost gift (I’m guilty of that). Well, some of it is pretty good, and if you like to ring in the holidays through song, then it’s a win-win.
Jazz musicians have been using Christmas music as vehicles for improvisation for a long time, like this new track from Joey DeFrancesco with Steve Gadd and Kevin Breit:[audio: http://media.rvanews.com/Christmas%20Tree%20081016_128K.mp3|titles=Christmas Tree|artists=Joey DeFrancesco]
It sells, too. Like many different parts of the holidays, music doesn’t escape Christmas commercialism. Musicians and labels find that it’s pretty easy to make a buck off of holiday releases: most the music has already been written, so it can be as simple as performing and recording it. Oftentimes and unfortunately, being creative with the music is a step that they often skip, leaving consumers with lackluster music and a saturated market for the stuff.
The idealist in me wants to believe that all musicians are doing it for the spirit of the holiday and the creative things that can be done with the music. And, hey: Isn’t this a good way to bring people into the jazz world?
I know people out there in Richmond are doing this, and we want to hear it. Send a track or two that you’ve recorded to dean [at] rvanews.com and we may feature it here on the site.
While not jazz, a few local musicians got together to record an album for friends and family, and it reflects a fun and creative way that musicians take on a familiar Christmas tune. Arranged by bassist Brian Cruse, the guys (CJ Wolfe on percussion & vocals, Larri Branch on keyboard, Justin Smith on guitar, Chris Ryan on guitar & vocals, Marcus Tenney on trumpet, Dave Hood on alto saxophone, and Ballard Midyette on trombone) play a reggae “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” offering up their voices on the final choruses.
Listen:[audio: http://media.rvanews.com/07%20Track%2007%201.mp3|titles=Go Tell It On The Mountain|artists=Brian Cruse CJ Wolfe Larri Branch Justin Smith Chris Ryan Marcus Tenney Dave Hood and Ballard Midyette]
A smaller group of the same musicians (Branch, Cruse, Wolfe, and Ryan) performing as Larri Branch Agenda also did “Deck the Halls” and will be releasing it as a free download this December.
Listen:[audio: http://media.rvanews.com/Deck%20The%20Halls.mp3|titles=Deck the Halls|artists=Larri Branch Agenda]
Who relies on Christmas music to get in the spirit, and who could live without it?