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The Soulful Strings - The magic of Christmas

December 23rd, 2012

The Soulful Strings - The Magic of ChristmasTHE SOULFUL STRINGS

  • The magic of Christmas
  • Cadet Records
  • 1968
  • USA

Let’s start with Richard Evans. This 1976 deceased producer, arranger, bassist and songwriter was one of the key figures behind Cadet records in the 1960s. During his relatively short career he produced and arranged plenty of big names such as Marlena Shaw, Terry Callier, Dorothy Ashby and Woody Herman to name a few. Despite the wide range of music he produced, he is however best known for is his own band The Soulful Strings, and particularly his masterpiece of a song “Burning spear”, later covered by S.O.U.L., Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell and many others. The whole idea behind The Soulful Strings was to answer to the growing “beautiful music” boom that rose during the 1960s. Together with some pretty famous musicians of the time - Charles Stepney (vibraphone, organ), Billy Wooten (vibraphone), Phil Upchurch (guitar), Cash McCall (guitar) Cleveland Eaton (bass), Lennie Druss (flute) and Morris Jennings Jr. (drums) among others - they recorded seven albums in six years. Although the music was quite close to the easy listening stuff, it was still very different. The heavy feel of funky jazz was always there with their music.

One of the seven albums released was called The magic of Christmas. It was released in 1968 and as you can tell by the name, it was filled with covers of traditional Christmas standards. While half of the tracks are very mellow and occasionally hava a quite strong easy listening feel in them, there’s several funky and groovy takes too. The opening track “The little drummer boy” for example. It’s a track that for some reason is playing in my head every Christmas, but still I like it. And the version on this album is among the best released. The version of “Santa Claus is coming to town” is a pretty good one too. The cover of “Sleigh ride” has a nice funky beat in it and the “Jingle bells” take even has a fat break in the beginning. The last track “Parade of the wooden soldiers” is worth to mention as well. Along the Joulusoitto album by Esko Linnavalli, The magic of Christmas is clearly one of the best “traditional” Christmas albums ever made.


The little drummer boy


Santa Claus is coming to town


Sleigh Ride


Jingle bells


Parade of the wooden soldiers

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 20.00, filed under christmas, jazz, north america | No Comments »

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X’mas

December 22nd, 2012

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X'masJIMMY TAKEUCHI

  • White X’mas
  • Toshiba Records
  • 1970
  • Japan

1930 born Jimmy Takeuchi (real name Wasaburo Takeuchi, ジミー竹内) is no doubt one of the best known and most loved jazz drummers in Japan. In fact he’s often referred as the image of the jazz drumming in the post-war Japan. He started his drumming career as early as in 1948 and it continued over 50 years until his final retirement in 2002. Although he’s propably best known for his 12 years lasting Drum drum drum series that were usually about the cover versions of contemporary songs, he also played with a whole bunch of Japanese jazz cats including Nobuo Hara, Shigenori O’Hara, Shoji Suzuki, Susumu Watanabe, Yuzuru Sera, George Kawaguchi, Hideo Shiraki and many more. Since 1967 Takeuchi also had his own group called Jimmy Takeuchi & His Exciters.

In 1970 was released the album White X’mas - in the mentioned Drum drum drum series. It’s an album full of traditional Christmas songs with heavy arrangements by Kunihiro Suzuki. There’s tracks that appear on most of the Christmas song albums like “Jingle bells”, “Santa Claus is soming to town”, “White Christmas”, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and so on. Only this time they are not that traditionally arranged. The album is full of psychedelia, fuzz guitar, wailing organs and heavy drumming with breaks - and still with that certain Jimmy Takeuchi jazz feel. Even though the cover is bit cheesy I can humbly recommend this one to be a part of everyone’s Christmas soundtrack.


Jingle bells


Douce nuit


Joy to the world


Santa Claus is coming to town


Greensleeves


White Christmas


Blue Christmas


Winter wonderland


Auld lang syne

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under asia, christmas, jazz | No Comments »
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