Tuesday, December 27, 2016


A Voice That Shall Be Missed

Yesterday brought the announcement by the incomparable Thomas Sowell that he was retiring from the business of writing his regular column for Creators Syndicate.

It isn't clear if this also means he is finished writing books, but I hope he isn't. He has written some of the most incisive and inspirational books in the history of conservative thought, and it would be a genuine shame if there were to be no more such contributions.

His "farewell" column published today is typical: sentimental without being maudlin, wise without being preachy, focused on the world as it is rather than as some wish it were.

Enjoy your well-earned leisure, sir...

Feast Day

St. John the Evangelist on Patmos, by Pieter Lastman

Today is the feast day of St. John the Apostle, also called St. John the Evangelist, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus and the source of more texts in the New Testament than any other author.

In addition to the Gospel which bears his name, John is also credited with writing three epistles as well as the Book of Revelation.

Among his many patronages, John is the patron saint of love and friendship, of authors and editors, and of publishers and booksellers.

Speaking of Feasts

I have heard that there are people in the world who don't believe that an open-faced hot turkey sandwich is the best sandwich.

Such people are monsters...

May God bless you and your turkey leftovers
as 2016 comes to an end!

Pretty sure they have hot turkey sandwiches in Heaven, so I'm not worried...

Damned Zebras

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

The interval between Christmas and New Year's Day will continue to feature seasonal music in this space, but with a somewhat less solemn tenor than in the days leading up to Christmas.

One of the most swinging bits of music on my Christmas playlist comes from my jazz hero Maynard Ferguson. Some time during 1956 saxophonist Willie Maiden, playing and arranging with Maynard's big band at the time, came up with a medley of seasonal music that came to be called "Christmas for Moderns." After performing the piece at seasonal gigs for a few years, Maynard recorded a version for the Roulette label that was supposed to be released as a single in 1960. A manufacturing defect resulted in a recall of the unplayable discs.

The recording didn't die with that snafu, however. Maynard's mentor Stan Kenton recorded A Merry Christmas! in 1961, and because they were worried about the commercial appeal of Kenton's highly experimental versions of traditional hymns and carols, Kenton's label Capitol Records chose to include Maynard's Christmas medley. Even now some jazz fans mistakenly credit Kenton with its creation, even though Ferguson hadn't played with Kenton's orchestra since 1953.

In 1993 Jazz Hour Records released Live at Peacock Lane, made from
a privately held recording of a gig Maynard and his band did at the famous venue on January 6, 1957. Because it featured what many fans consider his best ensemble, the Birdland Dream Band, it quickly became a favorite among Maynard fans around the world.

Among its treasures the album contained an early version of Maiden's "Christmas for Moderns" that was probably very close to the Roulette single. It consists of "Jingle Bells," "The First Noel," "White Christmas," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "The Christmas Song," "Silent Night" (sung by the band), and then "Jingle Bells" again for the finale.

Asked to make a contribution to his current label's Christmas album in 1996, Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau ensemble re-recorded the Maiden arrangement, although they called it "Christmas Medley" and made a couple of changes. This version opens with
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and omits "Silent Night," with "Jingle Bells" only appearing at the medley's finale.

Maynard's new version of an old fan favorite led off A Concord Jazz Christmas 2, one of the first compact disc albums I ever purchased. Great stuff.

Today's send-off is that 1996 incarnation of the medley, from the Big Bop Nouveau YouTube channel. Enjoy...

No comments:

Post a Comment