Today, we find three under the tree in the wind section.
Two of the three selections are from Christmas records that are proof that that MOR can be less. No wonder the friendly gent at the Book Cellar in Waupaca, Wisconsin, virtually gave them away.
I tried to like these old records. However, the easy listening was anything but easy. That said, there is at least one small gem on each of them.
Trumpet: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” Al Hirt, from “The Sound of Christmas,” 1965. It’s out of print.
Imagine a Christmas tune for go-go dancers. It’s a bit adventurous. Even so, it’s one of the more coherent cuts from the pop side of this album, which otherwise mashes too many ideas with too many bland, cookie-cutter choruses. Side 2 showcases Hirt’s elegant horn in more traditional orchestral and vocal arrangements of familiar Christmas hymns.
Saxophone: “Jingle Bells,” Boots Randolph, from “Boots and Stockings,” 1969. It’s out of print.
Randolph plays it safe on almost every cut on this album. But not “Jingle Bells,” fortunately. After he gets the easy listening vocals out of the way, Randolph cuts loose in the last minute. He improvises a swinging groove not heard on any other cut on the record.
Clarinet: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Pete Fountain, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. This is a compilation CD that, though also out of print, is much in demand under the tree at this time of year.
This cut is smooth all the way through. If you like your Nawlins music with a lazy, smoky vibe, you’ll dig the first half of this tune. If you like your Nawlins music as swinging riverboat jazz, you’ll dig the the second half of this tune. Either way, it’s classy, with no smooching sounds like the ones that render Hirt’s version of this tune unlistenable.