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Uncle Stevie’s Stocking Stuffers

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Hey there moppets… you say you’re tired of hearing the same old Christmas songs sung the same old way by the same old artists? Why not spice up your holiday mix tapes/CD-Rs/iPod playlists with a few of these seasonal chestnuts that you won’t find on your average Christmas album…

  • Bill Evans: Santa Claus is Coming to Town (The Complete Bill Evans on Verve [Disc 7]) — Bill goofing off in the studio, playing… and singing (!) a holiday standard… the fun is infectious… “with a bag on!”
  • Joni Mitchell: River (Blue) — a great wintry weeper if there ever was one…
  • Lou Reed: Xmas in February (New York) — holiday gloom and doom from the last guy you’d expect to see in a Santa suit…
  • John Coltrane: Greensleeves (Africa/Brass) — churning modal groove on the beautiful English folk tune (a.k.a. “What Child Is This”…)
  • Roland Kirk: We Free Kings (We Free Kings) — as in “We Three Kings of Orient Are”… a wild blowing session with the amazing Roland Kirk on multiple horns & flute (sometimes playing them all at once, of course…)
  • Roland Kirk/Jack McDuff: Skater’s Waltz (Kirk’s Work) — another one from Kirk… along with the tasty organ of Brother Jack McDuff… this dynamic duo has a ball with this one…
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Christmas Song (Kirkatron) — one last one from Rahsaan (he had a Christmas album in him, I’m sure of it!) This time a lovely version of the Mel Torme standard, ending with a wild vocal outburst!
  • Simon & Garfunkel: 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme) — a bit of melancholy folkiness from Paul & Art… the serene carol superimposed upon depressing news headlines from the mid-1960s…
  • P.I. Tchaikovsky/Duke Ellington: The Nutcracker Suite (Three Suites) — the inevitable holiday ballet in a brilliant swingin’ arrangement by Duke… you never knew how much you loved these tunes until you’ve heard them like this!
  • John Oswald/Gibbons Cry: White (Plunderphonics 69/96) — Der Bingle’s immortal White Christmas mutated not quite beyond all recognition… featuring a spooky chorus of whistlers…
  • Samuel Barber: Must the Winter Come So Soon (Vanessa) — a bittersweet, gorgeous, twilight snowy song for soprano and orchestra…
  • J.S. Bach/Quartetto Italiano di Viole de Gamba: In dulci jubilo [BWV 608 & 368] (Preludi ai Corali) — Bach chorale preludes (including this familiar carol melody) arranged for four viola de gamba and occasional boys choir… way more enjoyable than hearing these pieces played on the organ…
  • Franz Liszt: Weihnachtsbaum (“Christmas Tree”) — rarely heard late piano suite spanning the many moods and melodies of the holidays…
  • Luciano Berio: I Wonder While I Wander (Folk Songs): postmodern take on the traditional tune… complete with atonal flute fun at the end!
  • George Crumb: A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979extended piano techniques blending the old and the new in an atmospheric haze of wonder…
  • Harold Budd/Brian Eno: Wind in Lonely Fences (Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror) — yes, the title says it all…
  • The Free Design: A Child is Born (There is a Song) / Oscar Peterson: A Child is Born (Tracks) — there are many great versions of this Thad Jones beauty… here are two of the best: a vocal/pop confection and a solo piano masterpiece…
  • George Shearing: Greensleeves (My Ship) — here’s that lovely tune again… this time as a theme and variations covering a wide range of styles and harmonic twists…
  • Johnny Hartman: My Favorite Things (For Trane) — lots of great options here, but I really like this short and snappy version honoring but not imitating Coltrane…
  • The Qualities (a.k.a. Sun Ra Arkestra): It’s Christmas Time (The Singles) — doo-wop vocals meet free jazz anarchy… quaint yet crazy… in a perfect world this would be a holiday standard…
  • The Residents: Santa Dog — what can be said about this one… [but I notice that it’s not available as a bonus track on Meet the Residents anymore… happy holiday hunting…!]
  • [see also making a list, checking it twice: the 10 best Christmas albums (of all time…?)] [from serenade in green]
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    • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

      WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Santa Dog RULES!!!!!

      Of course, I’m writing a book about Ralph Records so you can’t go by me.