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A Merry Christmas!

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All Music Guide - Matt Collar
When bandleader Stan Kenton was approached to record an album of holiday music in 1961 he agreed, on one condition -- no songs about singing snowmen or flying reindeer. The resulting album, A Merry Christmas, is a polyphonic masterpiece that is at once progressive and traditional. Included are such well-known classics as "O Tannenbaum" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as well as lesser known gems like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Once in Royal David's City." Featuring Kenton's idiosyncratic style of arranging piercing trumpets over a wooly blanket of trombones and mellophones, this is beautiful, forward-thinking and angular music that addresses both complex classical ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
When bandleader Stan Kenton was approached to record an album of holiday music in 1961 he agreed, on one condition -- no songs about singing snowmen or flying reindeer. The resulting album, A Merry Christmas, is a polyphonic masterpiece that is at once progressive and traditional. Included are such well-known classics as "O Tannenbaum" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as well as lesser known gems like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Once in Royal David's City." Featuring Kenton's idiosyncratic style of arranging piercing trumpets over a wooly blanket of trombones and mellophones, this is beautiful, forward-thinking and angular music that addresses both complex classical harmony and Basie-style swing. Epitomizing this is the intricate and delicate harmonic dissonance on "O Come, All Ye Faithful," a must-hear for Kentonites. As a bonus, the album includes Kenton regular trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's stellar 1960 medley "Christmas for Moderns," which features the high-note master's hip takes on such other holiday nuggets as "White Christmas" and "Jingle Bells." Fans should also get a kick out of Kenton's humorous 1963 spoken word piece "What Is Santa Claus?."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/16/2003
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • UPC: 724358464627
  • Catalog Number: 84646

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Stan Kenton Primary Artist, Piano, Celeste, Narrator, Bandleader
Maynard Ferguson Trumpet
Slide Hampton Trombone
Jimmy Rowles Piano
Rufus "Speedy" Jones Drums, Bells
Lanny Morgan Alto Saxophone
Gene Roland Mellophonium
Clive Acker Tuba
Jim Amlotte Bass Trombone
Bud Brisbois Trumpet
Larry Bunker Percussion, Bells
Jaki Byard Piano
Frank Carlson Drums
Dwight Carver Mellophonium
Pete Chivily Bass
Joe Comfort Bass
Gordon Davison Mellophonium
Jesse Ehrlich Choir, Chorus, Celli
Joe Farrell Tenor Saxophone
Chet Ferretti Trumpet
Cecil Figelski Viola, Choir, Chorus
Bob Fitzpatrick Trombone
Joe Gibbons Guitar
Hyman Gold Choir, Chorus, Celli
Allan Harshman Violin, Choir, Chorus
Paul Heydorff Trombone
Frank Hittner Baritone Saxophone
Rick Kiefer Trumpet
Keith LaMotte Mellophonium
Willie Maiden Tenor Saxophone
Larry McGuire Trumpet
Gareth "Garry" Nuttycombe Violin, Choir, Chorus
Albert Pollan Tuba
Emil Richards Percussion, Bells
Bob Rolfe Trumpet
Kenny Rupp Trombone
Tommy Shepard Trombone
Sanford Skinner Trumpet
Dalton Smith Trumpet
Dave Wheeler Bass Trombone
Art Anton Drums
Jerry Lestock McKenzie Drums
Alex Borisoff Choir, Chorus, Celli
Charlie Saunders Bass
Jerry Tyree Trumpet
Bob Knight Bass Trombone
Williams Vandenberg Choir, Chorus, Celli
Rubin Decker Violin, Choir, Chorus
Hy Lesnick Bass, Choir, Chorus
Joe Burnette Mellophonium
Technical Credits
Adolphe Adam Composer
Irving Berlin Composer
Stan Kenton Arranger
Mel Tormé Composer
Ralph Carmichael Arranger
Sidney Arodin Composer
Michael Cuscuna Reissue Producer
Jesse Ehrlich String Section
Cecil Figelski String Section
Hyman Gold String Section
Allan Harshman String Section
Willie Maiden Arranger
Gareth "Garry" Nuttycombe String Section
Teddy Reig Producer
Robert Wells Composer
Lee Gillette Producer
John Reading Composer
Alex Borisoff String Section
Frederick Oakeley Composer
John Francis Wade Composer
Traditional Composer
Lee Gillespie Producer
John Henry Hopkins Jr. Composer
Williams Vandenberg String Section
Rubin Decker String Section
Hy Lesnick String Section
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Short, but worth more than any other Christmas CD

    43 minutes of music for $10 and change... maybe not the best value. But we're talking Stan Kenton and the creativity of Ralph Carmichael here! I got this CD last Christmas and honestly listen to it throughout the entire year. Sometimes I listen to it 3-4 times a day, and even put it on to fall asleep to. We all know how annoying Christmas music can get. But when the traditional melodies are tweaked slightly, and there are countermelodies galore, along with unbelievable time signatures, it is almost impossible to get sick of this music. I have even pulled my trumpet out on occasion and played along. I was first introduced to this music when watching the UMASS jazz ensemble perform some of it at a concert two years ago. Last year we played this version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" in jazz band at my school. I cannot imagine having another Christmas without these euphonic sounds. You don't have to like Stan Kenton's other music (or know anything about it), or be a jazz enthusiast to appreciate and recognize the unique qualities of this music. If you buy this CD you will find yourself lost in the Christmas spirit in no time. I should be thinking Halloween right now but all I can think of is CHRISTMAS! If you buy this CD chances are you won't put it away after the holidays. It will pay for itself after one listen, because with that one listen you will automatically start listening to it over, and over, and over again!

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