Music is often the spark that gets people in the holiday spirit. Christmas music is mostly traditional, but sometimes jazz musicians will spice up the season with their own versions of the classic favorites.
According to npr.org:
“Over the years, jazz musicians have produced a trove of recordings of carols and holiday music. Nick Spitzer, host of public radio’s American Routes, called up NPR’s David Greene to weigh-in on some swinging, soulful and snarky jazz holiday favorites, some of which were created by the genre’s most beloved and influential artists. ”
Jazzed up carols have come from some of the genre’s most influential artists, including Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s ‘The Nutcracker Suite,” and Miles Davis and Bob Dorough,’s “Blue Xmas.”
“Ellington saw jazz as not only jazz, but as great music,” Spitzer says. “So he wanted to let people know that he appreciated these kinds of things. The suite form had been important to him, but this is the first sort of whole piece based on a classical score. You can hear him kind of mingling Tchaikovsky and Ellington. You can hear counterpoint and swing on the familiar tunes and the ‘Overture’ and the ‘Entr’acte’ of The Nutcracker. It’s just a lot of fun as a kind of improvisation meets the tradition of classical.”
Spitzer noted: “Miles Davis was, at times, known as the Prince of Darkness. In the early ’60s, he had known Bob Dorough, who was a wonderful arranger and writer of comedic songs. Miles went to him because he liked his cynical comedic songs and said, ‘I need a Christmas song.’ And Bob told me, ‘Miles didn’t want folderol and jingle bells, so I concentrated on the overcommercialization of Christmas.'”
Check out the two standout jazz Christmas carols below, and enjoy a “jazzy” Christmas.