Christmas Trilogy with a Twist - Corky Siegel on Russo'
  • The Christmas Song
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • One
  • Penguins in the Opera House
  • Don't Wait For Peace
  • White Christmas
  • The Christmas Song
    Genre: Christmas
    MP3 (03:20) [7.62 MB]
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    Genre: Christmas
    MP3 (03:00) [6.88 MB]
  • One
    Genre: Holiday
    MP3 (04:39) [10.65 MB]
  • Penguins in the Opera House
    Genre: Holiday
    MP3 (03:45) [8.6 MB]
  • Don't Wait For Peace
    Genre: Holiday
    MP3 (02:54) [6.63 MB]
  • White Christmas
    Genre: Christmas
    MP3 (02:42) [6.2 MB]
Christmas Trilogy with a Twist -
Corky Siegel on Russo's Piano]/b]

For more information, contact:
Michael Frank, CEO
office 773-262-0278
Click here to go to Earwig Music Company

Corky Siegel brings a blues flavor to his favorite traditional Christmas songs with an additional twist of kindness and inclusiveness. He also includes songs of unity and peace with a perennial wish of healing and good will, all in the Christmas spirit.

Digitally released in time for Christmas 2020 by Corky Siegel on Dawnserly Records, distributed by Earwig Music Company, Inc.

Liner Notes by Corky Siegel

Mixing & Mastering - Ken Goerres
Editing - Holly and Me
Vocal & Piano - Me

*Performed on William Russo’s piano at Louise Frank’s home

1. The Christmas Song - Mel Tormé (3:19)*
2. White Christmas - Iving Berlin (2:42)*
3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Robert Lewis May(3:00)*
4. One - Me & Holly Siegel (4:38)*
5. Penguins in the Opera House - Lyrics by Me - Music by Hans Wurman (3:45)
6. Don’t Wait for Peace - Me (2:53)

Other Credits and Notes[b/]

Penguins in the Opera House
[There Were] "Penguins in the Opera House" was a children’s poem I wrote around 1973. The brilliant musical arrangement was written by my late friend Hans Wurman, who was a Jewish composer pianist and cellist that escaped from Austria when the Nazis took over the country. His teacher took him aside and said; “Not this one” and literally pulled him out of the hands of death. Hans pioneered the fusion of classical and electronic music, painstakingly transcribing orchestral works by Chopin, Bach, and others, to his Moog synthesizer. He produced pop albums including “The Moog Strikes Bach” and “Chopin a la Moog” and also scored such movies as “Bog” and “Sentinels of Silence.” He notable served as music director for Chamber Blues for a few years until his death. His late son, Felix, played cello for a few years in the first Chamber Blues ensemble along with our late violist Richard Halajian. The two violinists of the string quartet along with Felix and Richard were Lisa Wurman and Katherine Hughes. Hans played the piano lick and I played the one gratuitous lick on the harmonica. Hans directed me and the group in this 1994 performance with charming animation by Holly.

Don’t Wait for Peace
The singers on this song include the amazing Sue Demel of Sons of the Never Wrong, beautiful Nathaniel and Jillian of The Bergamot, and the late
Arthur Irby, a brilliant entertainer and drummer who joined Sam Lay and Siegel-Schwall till our tours ended in 2016. I believe this was recorded in 2014
by the Chamber Blues ensemble with violinists Jaimie Gorgojo and Chihsuan Yang, violist Dave Moss, cellist Jocelyn Butler Shoulders, and Frankie
Donaldson on tabla.

The Piano
The piano lives in the abode of Louise Frank, a close friend and producer at Chicago Fine Art station, WFMT. The piano was owned by my dear friend and mentor and collaborator the late William Russo, who composed many
works for me including the two major orchestra pieces, “Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra” in 1967, and “Street Music - A Blues Concerto” in 1975 both on Deutsche Grammophon. There will be a subsequent release of more of my solo tunes coming soon called;
“Russo’s Piano.”

Where is the Harmonica?
I poured years into the Chamber Blues Different Voices album which I consider my “feast de resistance,” my global acomplomentro, my superilamonate wonderfling, your “must have” if you don’t already have it, and your “must give” if you haven’t offered it to everyone you know that doesn’t have it. You can go to so you can acquire this recording - signed, sealed, and delivered to whomever you deem worthy of receiving it. After reviewing “Different Voices” for the last time, before putting the tunes in
order and working on the packaging with Dale our neighbor (brilliant designer), I came to the realization that there was no piano on the album. In one way it was a boon. First, I’m known more as a harmonica player anyway. I can’t tell you how many times people say; “Oh I didn’t know you played piano.” And and just showing; “Classical String Quartet and Blues Harmonica” more simply conveyed a vision of the contrasting genres inside. But OMG I forget to include piano. Ok ok, relax, the next album will be all piano and no harmonica. Then people can listen to both albums together and get plenty of both. LOL!

A Time for all places and all seasons and all reasons
In my mind, Christmas is only a religious holiday in the sense that it speaks of the “Christmas Spirit.” And for me the Christmas Spirit is the happiness that comes out of a state of kindness. This includes a practical
recognition of our deep connection with each other. And it makes love for humanity and nature, generosity, compassion and empathy, a very natural experience. Of course this is not a teaching owned by any religion or even religion in general. It is expressed by the wise, by the knowing, and by our favorite classic Hollywood movies, as the most practical foundation for a path to a happy and fulfilled life. This teaching not only uplifts our own life, but it nurtures a behavior that makes the world a better place for all to live. But I’m preaching to the choir. LOL!

Pine tingling and tinselating.
So for a child enjoying the tinselating sights, the sparkles, the pine tingling aroma, and the human exchanges of good will toward man, that are focused at Christmas time around the tree, the snowmen, the
reindeer, the Jolly St. Nicholas, the caroling, the gift giving, it is a beautific and pervading experience.

Fortunately as a Jew (an unorthodox one) I was never expected to remove myself from this energy. I think Mom and Dad plunged in there with us and allowed us the joy in the season of love. Though for singing the Christmas songs in school, Mom did tell me when we come to a line
in the song that uses the name “Jesus” that I should only move my lips to say “that” word.

And now the Christmas carols and songs create a nostalgia that brings me an explosion of joy. It’s a time when everyone looks at their calendars and decides it’s finally time to be kind to others. The one day we recommend to the Scrooges of the world to hold back on the greed or prepare for a visitation from one’s own unhappy life. LOL! The Christmas spirit is not exclusive to Christmas, it’s an everyday experience and it swirls around in all the hours of my life. Not surprising, in my newsletters, I call everyone “cousins,” because I already feel this deep connection. And I can’t express this better than in the solo version of the solo version of the song ONE on this album. I wrote ONE with Holly (pictured here pointing to the snow in case I didn’t notice it). ONE, is also featured in a gorgeous Chamber Blues orchestration on the Different Voices album (that everyone should own LOL!) sung by Matthew Santos.

I Can’t leave well enough alone
Knowing all the above you might understand why I changed just a couple words in these
Christmas songs. The line; “May all your Christmases be white,” just didn’t work for me. Not when I have to go out and shovel the snow and when the word “white” can be so especially non-inclusive. So, “may all your Christmases be filled with every color of the rainbow” seemed a nicer message. And for the last line in the Christmas Song; “And though its been said many times many ways, Merry Christmas to you,” there was something missing. And it occurred to me, if Jesus were walking down the street and you said; “Merry Christmas” it’s likely he wouldn’t know what you were talking about. LOL! And again, the Christmas Spirit that is
encapsulated in these songs seems much bigger than one religion or any religion. So under the unlikely chance of being sued by Mel Tormé, or who knows maybe even Rudolph, I took it upon myself to slightly finesse the last line. So I will sign off with; “and though it’s been said very rarely this way, merry Kwanzas, sparkling Diwali, oh sweet Ramadan, happy Chanukah,
happy holidays, and merry Christmas from this Jew.” -
Cousin Corky


Corky Siegel is internationally regarded as one of the world's great blues harmonica players, and is a celebrated composer, blues pianist, singer, songwriter, bandleader and author. Along with the likes of John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk, he is the recipient of a Meet The Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program for New American Music grant for chamber music composition resulting in his Chamber Blues ensemble's popular ‘Aunt Lila's Suite’; he has also been honored with the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award for Music Composition, the Chicago Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.

Born Mark Paul Siegel in Chicago in 1943, Corky's professional music career began when he founded the now legendary Siegel-Schwall Band in Chicago in 1965 with guitarist Jim Schwall. The group was a major component of the young generation of white blues artists -- including Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield -- who learned the historic Chicago blues style at the feet and hands of such towering figures as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Sam Lay. Corky played with all these greats at Siegel-Schwall's first steady engagement, in 1965 at Peppers, Chicago’s renowned blues club. They were soon signed to Vanguard Records. Their first album, The Siegel-Schwall Band, was released in 1966, and with it the group made San Francisco a virtual second home: There the likes of Janis Joplin, Santana, Steve Miller and Joni Mitchell opened for them. The band would record three more classic albums for Vanguard up through 1970, then five for Wooden Nickel/RCA through 1974, before going on hiatus.

In 1973, the Siegel-Schwall Band released Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra on the prestigious classical music label Deutsche Grammophon. The title track was a groundbreaking piece composed by jazz trombonist William Russo combining classical music played by an orchestra (the San Francisco Symphony) with blues music played by a four-piece band (Siegel-Schwall) conducted by maestro Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa had been a huge fan of Siegel-Schwall since 1966, when he was the first music director of the Ravinia Festival -- the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He used to see the band perform frequently at Chicago blues clubs, and suggested a blues-classical collaboration. Corky worked closely with Russo, and in 1968 they premiered "Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra" with Ozawa and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Its success -- including a high-charting Billboard pop and classical single culled from the program -- led to Siegel-Schwall's performance with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra on an Evening At Pops program for PBS, and in 1979, Deutsche Grammophon's release of Russo: Street Music, Op.65 - A Blues Concerto, featuring Corky on harmonica and piano, received the French Government's Grand Prix du Disque award as well as the Recording of Special Merit in Stereo Review.

After releasing two solo albums, Corky founded Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues, featuring himself on harmonica, piano and vocals, the West End String Quartet of top-flight Chicago classical string players, and Frank Donaldson on world percussion instruments. The novel ensemble performed Siegel's pioneering blues/classical music compositions and released its self-titled debut album, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues on Chicago's Alligator Records in 1994. Chamber Blues has two subsequent releases, 1998's Complementary Colors (Gadfly Records) and 2005's Corky Siegel’s Traveling Chamber Blues Show – Live (Alligator Records) prior to the release of 2017's DIFFERENT VOICES.

Additionally, Corky has written and performed works for the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. He composed "Continuum" with renowned choreographers Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis, and his music has also been choreographed and performed by five international ballet companies and has been used for numerous motion pictures and national TV specials, as well as the Olympic men's figure skating competition and the World Championship skating competition featuring U.S. Olympic gold medalists Torvill and Dean. His first commission from the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, "Symphonic Blues #6", has already been performed many times around the world. His second commission is to be premiered in May of 2017 with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra.

Corky continues to appear internationally as guest soloist with symphony orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony in Japan. He has performed many symphonic collaborations with Doc Severinsen and also tours frequently with L. Subramaniam, India’s Eastern classical violin virtuoso.

He is prominently featured in the documentary Born in Chicago which recounts the history of the '60s rock-blues explosion and also stars Bob Dylan, Jack White, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Eric Burdon and Steve Miller, as well as Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel and Nick Gravenites. Corky Siegel has recorded and toured with Goldberg, Mandel, Gravenites and Lay as the Chicago Blues Reunion. In 2007, Corky published the music guide book Let Your Music Soar: The Emotional Connection, co-written with Peter Krammer.

Few can claim to have forged an entirely original genre of music. In 1966, Corky Siegel did just that. But not without the inspiration of his personal mentors, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and the great Chicago blues masters, and not without the help of world-renowned classical maestro Seiji Ozawa, who came into a famed Chicago Blues club, discovered the blues harmonica virtuoso, and suggested a collaboration.

Guiding the blues out of the smoky caverns of Big John's and Pepper's Lounge and onto the stages of the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and beyond, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues DIFFERENT VOICES reaches across the globe from different sides of the musical landscape, dissolving the walls between genre and people to take us to places we have never been before.
  • Members:
    Corky Siegel
  • Sounds Like:
    Corky Siegel
  • Influences:
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