That Ella Fitzgerald tune was put under the tree last night to fulfill a request. As are tonight’s tunes.
Someone asked whether I had “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I do. Exactly three versions, each distinctly different, so they fit nicely under the tree.
“The 12 Days of Christmas,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You a Merry Christmas,” 1962.
No calypso here, just a nice, rather traditionally orchestrated version. It’s highlighted, of course, by Belafonte’s smooth, high tenor. Belafonte, who turned 80 this year, was just 35 when he cut this record in Hollywood.
I found this album in the $1 bin at my friendly neighborhood used record store the other day. This 45-year-old vinyl has almost pristine sound.
“The 12 Days of Christmas,” the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, from “A Festival of Carols in Brass,” 1967. (This is a CD rip. My vinyl has a nice big skip right at the beginning of this song.)
This was the second Christmas record I ever bought. I didn’t buy Christmas records until after I left home for college. I bought it at Prange’s, a big department store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in December of 1977 or 1978.
I bought “A Motown Christmas” at the same time, and I remember thinking I needed to get something traditional to go along with it, something like the Christmas albums we had at home.
“A Festival of Carols in Brass” consists of 25 traditional Christmas carols, most of them fairly short cuts, “played by the first-chair virtuosos of the Philadelphia Orchestra.”
The liner notes on the original vinyl album also say this:
“Maybe it’s the influence of the Salvation Army, or maybe it’s just a special kind of inherent affinity. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that practically everyone associates the sound of brass instruments with the music of Christmas.”
When this was re-released on CD in 1991, those liner notes had disappeared, as had all the credits for the performers. The producer’s name survived, but not the names of those who played all that elegant brass.
So, for the record, here is the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, circa 1967: Gilbert Johnson, first trumpet; Seymour Rosenfeld, second trumpet; Mason Jones, French horn; Henry Charles Smith, trombone; M. Dee Stewart, euphonium; and Abe Torchinsky, tuba.
“The 12 Days of Christmas,” from “Christmas Party Dancing.”
These upbeat performers sound a little like the Salsoul Orchestra, but aren’t them, obviously. I’m guessing this is something from the ’80s or ’90s. It’s a budget CD with no credits or copyright dates. All I know is that it was made and distributed by LDMI, a Canadian company.
And that it has a nice cover.
Enjoy. More to come.