Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
For the next several weeks, Christmas music, with many selections you’ll never hear on FM radio.
Maybe your Thanksgiving holiday has been one mad dash, hectic and crazy. You need to slow down, take a break, and we’ve got some relaxing music to do the trick.
We begin with a festive piece that we certainly don’t hear enough during the Christmas season, but we should: Christmas Sleigh Bells (From Romance And Troika “Lieutenant Kije”).
A “troika” is a Russian sleigh, drawn by a trio of horses. Sergei Prokofiev composed this music for his very first movie soundtrack back in 1933 about the adventures of a fictional lieutenant. It’s charming , playful, and cheerful, and a great way to open this week’s compilation. The orchestra leader is Wally Stott.
I’ve written about this guitarist’s interesting history in the past, but it’s worth repeating.
No surprise, Peter White who grew up in England heard the Beatles on the radio and immediately became fascinated with music. With the acoustic guitar his parents bought him when he 8 years old White taught himself to play. White didn’t stop there. He took lessons on the recorder, piano and clarinet.
Then in 1967 he heard Jimi Hendrix.
“I was amazed- never had I heard sounds like that coming out of my acoustic guitar and I decided that from that day on, I had to have an electric guitar. Now if only I could convince my parents to buy me one,” said White.
“I soon got my electric guitar and set to work trying to play like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), but my rock star dreams were soon put on hold when my beloved axe was burned in a fire (accidentally) set by my brother Danny. Distraught, I turned back to my old acoustic guitar, which had been gathering dust in the corner. The guitar-burning incident, though tragic at the time, would prove to be a major turning point in my life. I started to develop a love for acoustic music, something that continues to this day- I soon found lots of inspiration in the music of Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell all featuring acoustic guitar. I now carried that acoustic guitar with me everywhere I went – it became my best friend.”
White’s been playing and recording since the mid 1970’s. On the road, he has participated in numerous “Guitars and Saxes” tours and has established an annual “Peter White Christmas Tour” – the latter enterprise fueled by the success of his two highly regarded holiday albums, Songs of the Season (1997) and A Peter White Christmas (2007).
When Latin musician Jessy J was a young girl at summer band camp she thought she was destined for the flute. She can thank her stars her band director said no.
“But (she) said there were too many people playing the flute, and she asked me to play the saxophone instead,” said Jessy J. “I asked my teacher how I could listen to saxophone recordings, and she told me about all the great saxophone players like Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley.”
She also loved classical and rock music, but had to make a choice, and opted for traditional jazz that could cross over into pop .
A USC graduate of music studies, Jessy J toured with artists such as Michael Bublé, Michael Bolton and Jessica Simpson before going solo. The J in her name stands for jazz.
“I love Christmas, I’m a Christmas baby,” she said, born on December 28. “I always wanted to have a Christmas album… I’ve been planning this album in my head for four or five years. “I’d say, ‘OK, this Christmas what are my favorite songs?’ ‘Feliz Navidad’ is just a family tradition of ours.”
From her 2016 release….
The Modern Jazz Quartet was formed in 1952 by Milt Jackson, (vibraphone), John Lewis, piano, musical director), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). They became famous for worked with Classical musicians to infuse portions of Classical music into jazz.
The group broke up in 1974 and got together again in 1981 on a part-time basis.
In 1994 they were guest artists on a Christmas CD released by Hallmark.
That’s it for this week.
have a great weekend.
We close with one of the standouts in contemporary jazz.