Goodnight everyone, and have a Christmas in July 2020 weekend!

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.

Christmas in July reportedly began on July 24th and 25th in 1933 at a girl’s camp called Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina.  There was a Christmas tree, snow made from cotton, laundry bags used as makeshift stockings, and even Santa Claus.

Or did the tradition start at Yellowstone Park when a stagecoach ran into a freak summer blizzard. Stranded in the Rocky Mountains at the Old Faithful Inn, the riders refused to be distraught, and celebrated Christmas.

C’mon Kev. Who are you tryin’ to kid? Obviously some marketing team on Madison Avenue dreamed up this summertime opportunity.

If not them, had to be Hallmark, or the Hallmark Channel.

No one knows for sure, but it’s a thing now.

This week, we’ve got Christmas music that is definitely Christmas music that doesn’t really or immediately sound like Christmas.

Admit it. You’re curious. What do we have up our sleeve to pull this off?

Well, let’s get started with the biggest seller of Christmas music ever and an appropriate intro. 

Chip Davis, the founder of Mannheim Steamroller, was told by people in the music industry not to do a Christmas album because that would signal the end of his career. Their first Christmas album sold five million copies. Mannheim Steamroller is the #1 Christmas music artist of all times, selling more than 31 million albums. The second highest Christmas artist is Elvis Presley with 17 million albums.

Next up, a French carol that was first published in 1862. One English translation goes like this:

He is born, the Heav’nly Child,
Oboes play; set bagpipes sounding.
He is born, the Heav’nly Child,
Let all sing His nativity.

‘Tis four thousand years and more,
Prophets have foretold His coming.
‘Tis four thousand years and more,
Have we waited this happy hour. 

Ah, how lovely, Ah, how fair,
What perfection is His graces.
Ah, how lovely, Ah, how fair,
Child divine, so gentle there.

The group is called “WordHarmonic.”

From biblegateway.com:

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

We now move on to an original piece from 1999 that takes a traditional British carol and turns it into smooth jazz. The group is Fourplay:

  • Bob James – piano, keyboards
  • Lee Ritenour – guitar
  • Nathan East – bass guitar
  • Harvey Mason – drums

Bob James who wrote wrote “Angela”, the theme song for the TV show “Taxi” is the writer here.

Now that was creative. Jazz works that way.

Let’s stick with that holly berries theme.

Way back in 1922 Rev. Bates G. Burt started a wonderful Christmas tradition. He began writing annual Christmas carols, the words and the music. The whole shootin’ match. Burt did so to send as Christmas cards to his parishioners in Marquette, Michigan, and again when he moved on to Pontiac, Michigan. Nineteen of his carols were published.

The task was then passed on to Bates’ son Alfred in 1942. While the Rev. Burt was a self-taught musician hos son was a jazz trumpeter with music degree from the University of Michigan. Alfred Burt wrote and composed 15 carols until his death in 1954. He was only 33. One of his carols from 1950: “Bright Bright the Holly Berries.”

Bright, bright the holly berries
in the wreath upon the door,
Bright, bright the happy faces
with the thoughts of joys in store.
White, white the snowy meadow
wrapped in slumber deep and sweet
White, white the mistletoe
‘neath which two lovers meet.
This is Christmas,
this is Christmas,
This is Christmas-time.

Here’s the Grammy Award-winning Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band with a selection from a modern film adaption of “A Christmas Carol” where Daffy Duck, in an Ebenezer Scrooge role, is visited by three Christmas Ghosts.

Yes, “Christmas” is in the title. But you’d never know it’s a Christmas melody just by listening, unless you knew the song.

Guaranteed you won’t hear this on the radio this December.

Now did we mention this would be Christmas music that didn’t exactly sound like Christmas music? That makes it for perfect for Christmas in July.

Guitarist Jonathan Butler and  saxophonist Gerald Albright combine for this short number.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

And let us be the first to wish you Merry Christmas.

We could use the extra spirit this year.

Our close is from music producer Michael Broening.

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