Down Beat - 1/903 Stars
- Good - "...jumps out of the speakers and bowls one over with brass, brass, and more brass..."
Personnel: Stan Kenton (spoken vocals, piano, celeste); Lanny Morgan (alto saxophone); Joe Farrell, Willie Maiden (tenor saxophone); Frank Hitner (baritone saxophone); Maynard Ferguson, Chet Ferretti, Jerry Tyree (trumpet); Bob Fitzpatrick, Paul Heydorff, Robert Knight, Tom Shepard (trombone); Jimmy Rowles (piano); Charlie Saunders, Hy Lesnick, Pete Chivily (bass); Rufus Jones (drums, bells); Jerry Lestock McKenzie, Art Anton, Frank Carlson (drums); Larry Bunker, Emil Richards (percussion, bells).
Recorded at Capitol Studios, Goldwyn Sound Stage, Los Angeles, Caifornia and Capitol Studios, New York, New York between October 14, 1960 & April 11, 1963. Originally released on Capitol (1621).
Personnel: Stan Kenton (piano, celesta); Joe Gibbons (guitar); Rubin Decker, Gareth "Garry" Nuttycombe, Allan Harshman (violin); Cecil Figelski (viola); Lanny Morgan (alto saxophone); Joe Farrell, Willie Maiden (tenor saxophone); Frank Hittner (baritone saxophone); Bob Rolfe, Larry McGuire, Dalton Smith, Jerry Tyree, Chet Ferretti, Sanford Skinner, Maynard Ferguson, Rick Kiefer, Bud Brisbois (trumpet); Bob Fitzpatrick, Kenny Rupp, Paul Heydorff, Slide Hampton, Tommy Shepard (trombone); Dave Wheeler, Jim Amlotte, Bob Knight (bass trombone); Clive Acker, Albert Pollan (tuba); Jaki Byard, Jimmy Rowles (piano); Rufus "Speedy" Jones (drums, bells); Frank Carlson, Art Anton, Jerry Lestock McKenzie (drums); Larry Bunker, Emil Richards (percussion, bells).
Recording information: Capitol Studios, New York, NY (10/14/1960-04/11/1963); Goldwyn Sound Stage, LA (10/14/1960-04/11/1963).
Arrangers: Ralph Carmichael; Stan Kenton; Willie Maiden.
When bandleader Stan Kenton was approached to record an album of holiday music in 1961 he agreed, on one condition -- no songs about singing snowmen or flying reindeer. The resulting album, A Merry Christmas, is a polyphonic masterpiece that is at once progressive and traditional. Included are such well-known classics as "O Tannenbaum" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as well as lesser known gems like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Once in Royal David's City." Featuring Kenton's idiosyncratic style of arranging piercing trumpets over a wooly blanket of trombones and mellophones, this is beautiful, forward-thinking and angular music that addresses both complex classical harmony and Basie-style swing. Epitomizing this is the intricate and delicate harmonic dissonance on "O Come, All Ye Faithful," a must-hear for Kentonites. As a bonus, the album includes Kenton regular trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's stellar 1960 medley "Christmas for Moderns," which features the high-note master's hip takes on such other holiday nuggets as "White Christmas and "Jingle Bells." Fans should also get a kick out of Kenton's humorous 1963 spoken word piece "What Is Santa Claus?." ~ Matt Collar