The Sackville All Star Christmas Record is a timeless record, comprised of a wonderful mix of traditional carols going back to the 1500s (“Silent Night”, “Good King Wencelas” and “We Three Kings”), songs without religious connotation but still emblematic of the Christmas season (“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “White Christmas”), contemporary songs popularized as recently as the middle of 20th century (“Winter Wonderland”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”), and jazz songs with any kind of christmas references (“At the Christmas Ball” popularized first by Bessie Smith).
THE SACKVILLE ALL STAR CHRISTMAS RECORD
featuring Milt Hinton * Ralph Sutton * Gus Johnson * Jim Galloway
Sackville SK 3038
A Christmas album for all seasons! Ralph Sutton is one of the greatest stride and classic jazz pianists of all time. Milt Hinton became famous for “slapping” the bass and being the most recorded jazz musician appearing on well over 1,000 sessions. Gus Johnson also appeared on many sessions, playing drums behind Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie and many more. Born in Scotland in 1936, Jim Galloway is the youngest of the band (by fourteen years!) and has been active on the Canadian jazz scene since the mid ‘60s. This 1986 recording is one of the best-selling and most popular jazz Christmas albums. And for good reason: these musicians are truly ALL STARS! Notes by John Norris enclosed.
1. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (3:12)
2. We Three Kings (6:19)
3. At The Christmas Ball (7:02)
4. Winter Wonderland (5:15)
5. Go Tell It On The Mountain (3:32)
6. Good King Wenceslas (3:41)
7. Santa Claus Came In The Spring (5:14)
8. Silent Night (5:44)
9. Let It Snow (5:08)
10. Old Time Religion (3:24)
Jim Galloway, soprano sax
Ralph Sutton, piano
Milt Hinton, bass
Gus Johnson, drums
Recorded March 29 & 30, 1986
Delmark Records, 4121 N. Rockwell,
Chicago, IL 60618 www.delmark.com
CP 2014 Delmark Records
1. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (3:12) (Coots/Gillespie, EMI Feist Catalog Inc./Haven Gillespie Music Publ., ASCAP)
2. We Three Kings (6:19) (Rev. J.H. Hopkins, 1862)
3. At The Christmas Ball (7:02) (Fred Longshaw)
4. Winter Wonderland (5:15) (Bernard/Smith, WB Music Corp., ASCAP)
5. Go Tell It On The Mountain (3:32)(Traditional)
6. Good King Wenceslas (3:41) (from Piae Cantimes,1582)
2. Santa Claus Came In The Spring (5:14) (Johnny Mercer, Bourne Co., ASCAP)
3. Silent Night (5:44) (Franz Gruber, 1818)
4. Let It Snow (5:08) (Styne/Cahn, Producer’s Music Publ. Co. Inc.,/Cahn Music Co., ASCAP)
5. Old Time Religion (3:24)(Traditional)
Produced by John Norris and Bill Smith
Album Production: Robert G. Koester
CD production: Steve Wagner
Recorded in Toronto by Phil Sheridan at McClear Place Studios
Cover photograph courtesy of Milt Hinton
Liner photographs and jacket design by Bill Smith
Original Lp jacket photographed by Paul Natkin
Other Sackville albums of interest:
Pete Magadini, Bones Blues (4004) with Don Menza
Harold Mabern, Joy Spring (2016)
Ronnie Matthews, Café de Copains (2025)
Doc Cheatham, You’re A Sweetheart (2038)
Ralph Sutton, Easy Street (2040)
Albert Nicholas, Baden 1969 (2045)
Ben Webster & Teddy Wilson, Ben & Teddy (2056)
Benny Carter/Bill Coleman/Henry Chaix Orchestra, (2058)
Rex Stewart, Baden 1966 and ’71 (2061)
Jay McShann, The Man From Muskogee (3005) with Claude Williams
Junior Mance, Here ‘Tis (3050)
Christmas is a joyous celebration of life which has long been affirmed in music. There have been such grand affairs as Handel’s “Messiah” as well as an expanding collection of Christmas songs (carols) gradually spread around the western world.
A unique addition of these, in North America, has been the creation of a body of sacred material in the gospel tradition. Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams and The Staple Singers have all recorded collections of this material.
Christmas songs have also been part of current popular music—where they form part of the annual social celebration (“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “White Christmas”) rather than having any religious connotation.
This album of Christmas music is for those who wish to celebrate without the blatantly commercial overtones, which manage to pervade so much of the season.
The music is a cross section of traditional Christmas carols, popular Christmas songs, tunes from the jazz repertoire having references to Christmas in their lyrics (although this is an instrumental collection) and spirituals reflecting the music’s original black heritage.
“We Three Kings”, “Good King Wenceslas” and “Silent Night” are all traditional carols with Wenceslas dating back to at least 1582. Both “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” are of more recent vintage. They made the popular song charts in 1934 and have remained part of the seasonal celebration ever since. “Let It Snow” and “Santa Claus Came In The Spring” are also popular songs but neither of them has retained any popularity.
“At The Christmas Ball” is a Fred Longshaw tune which was sung with magnificent deliberation by Bessie Smith in 1925. “Old Time Religion”, while not exactly a Christmas song, personifies the spirituality, which is so much a part of the season.
The All-Star quartet of musicians who performed the music is steeped in the music’s traditions and history. They have worked together frequently in Switzerland and at various jazz parties in the U.S. The rhythm section, along with Sackville recording artist Jay McShann, has often performed together as “The Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players”.
Music, for these musicians, is a natural part of their life. They can spontaneously draw upon their many years of experience to create freshly crafted visions of tunes seemingly long cemented in clay.
This recording is a Christmas record for all seasons. – John Norris
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