Tag Archives: Arthur Lyman

Three under the tree, Day 15

As we swing into the third week of this series, the sun is out in our corner of Wisconsin. It feels good on your face as you step out of the car. Hey, it’s a relatively balmy 25 degrees.

But that’s nothing compared to Christmas in Hawai’i, where we’re finding today’s three under the palm trees.

We served up a cut from Arthur Lyman’s “With A Christmas Vibe” the other day. From the liner notes to that 1959 album:

“The 50th state lends its own distinctive twists to the season, warmly spicing the festivities with a tropical clime and an exotic flair. Santa surfs past Diamond Head; hostesses wrap red and green leis around your neck; mai-tais are swizzled with sticks of Rudolph and kin; palm trees sway, festooned with ornaments, and Arthur Lyman and the boys send out holiday vibes way after the last rays of the Christmas sun have ruffled the horizon.”

We’ll start with Lyman, a native Hawai’ian who from the ’50s to the ’70s cranked out a form of jazz that came to be known as exotica, then lounge.


“We Three Kings,” Arthur Lyman, from “With A Christmas Vibe,” 1959. The album originally was released as “Mele Kalikimaka.”

This odd version, heavy on percussion, suggests the three kings in transit. There’s just a small slice of the familiar tune.

We’ll finish up with some more authentic Hawai’ian music.


“Ho’onani I Ka Hale (Deck the Halls)” and “Dear St. Nick,” Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai’i, from “Christmas Time with Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai’i,” 1978.

I don’t know much about Hawai’ian music. However, I received this CD some years ago from my friend Conan, who lives in Hawai’i and either ran a record store or worked at one. Conan has excellent taste.

Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai’i are cultural legends in their home state. Kamae, a ukelele player, got together with slack-key guitarist Gabby Pahinui, steel guitarist David “Feet” Rogers and bassist Joe Marshall in 1960 to play traditional Hawai’ian folk music. The Sons went through a variety of lneups until Kamae retired in 1992 to become a filmmaker, focusing on Hawai’ian culture.

Rogers has the slack-key steel solo on “Ho’onani I Ka Hale (Deck The Halls),” which blends traditional Hawai’ian music with the tune you know.

“Dear St. Nick” is a pleasant little original written — and I think sung — by Dennis Kamakahi, who wrote many of the Sons’ songs from the late ’70s on.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 13

Well, we wound up with only 8 inches of snow, but it still looks like a winter wonderland out there. Even if it meant shoveling twice in one day.

Yesterday, we served up three versions of “Winter Wonderland” with vocals. Today, we have three instrumental versions.


“Winter Wonderland,” Arthur Lyman, from “With A Christmas Vibe,” 1959.

Vibes, bass, piano and bongos rule the day. This is a laid-back bit of Hawai’ian lounge/exotica from the master, accompanied by Harold Chang, John Kramer and Allan Soares. This classic was re-released on CD in 1996, at the height of the lounge wave. Its original title was “Mele Kalikimaka.”


“Winter Wonderland,” Ramsey Lewis Trio, from “Sound of Christmas,” 1961.

Lewis’ sprightly jazz piano drives this version, complemented nicely and subtly by El Dee Young on bass and Red Holt on drums. This classic was re-released on CD in 2004.


“Winter Wonderland,” Reverend Horton Heat, from “We Three Kings,” 2005.

Some sweet roadhouse piano drives this version, though there is plenty of raved-up and rockin’ guitar work by Jim Heath. The liner notes don’t mention the keyboard player, though.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 4

Tonight, we pay a visit to the tropics for some Christmas instrumentals with a little different flavor. Three under the palm tree, if you will.


“Winter Wonderland,” Arthur Lyman, from “With a Christmas Vibe,” 1959.

Call it exotica, or call it Hawaiian jazz, but Lyman is bringing the good vibes — literally and figuratively — on this classic album. Its original title in 1959 was “Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas),” and it was re-released on CD in 1996 to some warm reviews.

I’m older than dirt, but even I am not old enough to remember Lyman’s appearances on TV variety shows and on the old “Hawaiian Eye” detective show in the ’60s. (Quick! Who starred on “Hawaiian Eye?” Robert Conrad and the always swell Connie Stevens.)


“Feliz Navidad,” Robert Greenidge, from “It’s Christmas, Mon!”, 1995. Good luck finding this CD. (It’s Intersound 3529).

Though Greenidge gets no cover billing, he’s playing the steel pan. If you’re a Jimmy Buffett fan, you know his work.

Greenidge, who’s from Trinidad, has been with the Coral Reefer Band since 1983. He and Coral Reefer keyboard player Michael Utley also play together as Club Trini, an instrumental group. Greenidge started out as a session player in the early ’70s, then spent six years with Taj Mahal.


“O Come All Ye Faithful,” unknown artists, from “Christmas in the Caribbean,” 1996.

This is the familiar carol, also done on steel pan. It’s from a no-name, low-budget CD, but is charming nonetheless.

Enjoy. More to come.

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Filed under Christmas music, November 2007, Sounds