Just When You Thought You’d Heard Every Christmas Song

Posted on 23 de octubre de 2020
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Trumpeter/Vocalist Bob Merrill (http://bobmerrill.net) presents «If I Hear Another Song About Christmas» featuring Bob on vocals; Lawrence Hobgood, piano, Daryl Johns, bass and his date, Steve John, drums.

BOB MERRILL is noted for his engaging vocal style, combined with great talent as a Jazz trumpeter, pianist, arranger and bandleader. His music has been heard around the world – at clubs and in concerts, in films and on television, and on recordings as a leader and sideman.
Born and raised in Manhattan, he studied with Red Rodney as a teenager. While in college, Bob led the Harvard Jazz Band, performing regularly around New England and touring with them overseas. While earning his degree in music at Harvard, he also attended New England Conservatory, studying and performing with legendary pianist Jaki Byard and his Apollo Stompers Big Band. In 1981 Bob became a teaching fellow for Harvard’s Seminars in Jazz course and founded the Jazz at the Pudding concert series at the famed Hasty Pudding Club, fronting the house band and presenting many prominent Jazz artists, among them Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Al Hibbler, Sheila Jordan and Archie Shepp.

In 1986, Merrill returned to New York where he opened Hip Pocket Studios, a 48-track recording facility specializing in music for commercials and host for recordings by artists such as Patti LaBelle, Sting, Art Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary as well as television clients including The Cosby Show on NBC. He produced three CDs for his father-in-law, legendary pianist and composer Joe Bushkin, for whom he served as trumpeter, musical director and arranger. Together they appeared at New York’s Tavern on the Green and The Supper Club, L.A.’s Jazz Bakery, in addition to engagements in Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Jazz festivals around the country.

In 1997, Bob released his first album as a leader, Catch as Catch Can, and he was featured on the American Movie Classics channel leading the AMC Orchestra in the television series Gotta Dance! Bob’ second CD, Got A Bran’ New Suit, featuring Bill Charlap and an all-star lineup was released in 2005. He has appeared in concerts with Peter Nero and the Philadelphia Pops, as well as the Nassau Pops, and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. His third album, Christmastime at the Adirondack Grill, has become a Yuletide season favorite.

Bob Merrill’s charismatic musical style has been hailed by critics and his band never fails to get a crowd on its feet.

More recently popular Christmas songs—often Christmas songs introduced in theater, television, film, or other entertainment media—tend to be specifically about Christmas, or have a wintertime theme. They are typically not overtly religious. The most popular set of these titles—heard over airwaves, on the Internet, in shopping centers malls, in elevators and lobbies, even on the street during the Christmas season—have been composed and performed from the 1930s onward. «Jingle Bells», «Jolly Old Saint Nicholas», and «Up on the House Top», however, date from the mid-19th century.

The largest portion of these songs in some way describes or is reminiscent of Christmas traditions, how Western Christian countries tend to celebrate the holiday, i.e., with caroling, mistletoe, exchanging of presents, a Christmas tree, feasting, jingle bells, etc. Celebratory or sentimental, and nostalgic in tone, they hearken back to simpler times with memorable holiday practices—expressing the desire either to be with someone or at home for Christmas.

Many titles help define the mythical aspects of modern Christmas celebration: Santa Claus bringing presents, coming down the chimney, being pulled by reindeer, etc. New mythical characters are created, defined, and popularized by these songs; «Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer», adapted from a major retailer’s promotional poem, was introduced to radio audiences by Gene Autry in 1949. His follow-up a year later introduced «Frosty the Snowman», the central character of his song.

Though overtly religious, and authored (at least partly) by a writer of many church hymns, no drumming child appears in any biblical account of the Christian nativity scene. This character was introduced to the tradition by Katherine K. Davis in her «The Little Drummer Boy» (written in 1941, with a popular version being released in 1958).
The winter-related songs celebrate the climatic season, with all its snow, dressing up for the cold, sleighing, etc.

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