Monday, December 20, 2010

My Favorite Things

When did My Favorite Things become a Christmas song?  When Celia heard me practicing this song, she said "I thought your were going to do a Christmas song".  I said, "This IS a Christmas song!".   I thought it was obvious, but come to think of it, why do we associate this with the Holiday season at all?  We all know that it comes from The Sound of Music.   According to Wikipedia,  the wintertime imagery of some of the lyrics made it popular during the Holiday season. 

It took off as a Holiday classic after being recorded for a Christmas album by the Supremes in 1965, and then by Tony Bennett and Barbara Streisand in 1969.  It has been thought of as a Christmas song ever since then.

In Jazz circles, this was recorded famously in 1961 by John Coltrane.  I've always wanted to be able to play this,  but with the non-standard keys (Em and E) and the fast tempos that good players use (often north of 200 bpm), it has always been way out of my league.

In this version of My Favorite Things,  I am playing piano with Neil Swainson on bass, and P.J. Perry adding a very bluesy verse on alto sax.  The song is played at 140 which is really stretching the limit for me at this point.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A little note about the musicians:

P.J. Perry has become recognized by critics, colleagues and listeners as one of North America's premier saxophonists.  He has shared the stage with countless Jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Michel LeGrand, Pepper Adams, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, and The Boss Brass among others.

In 2007 P.J. was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta.

Winner of a 1993 Juno Award for Best Jazz Recording for his album "My Ideal," P.J. received Jazz Report magazine's Critic's Choice Award for Best Alto Sax for seven years from 1993 to 1999.

In autumn of 1999 Justin Time Records released a Juno nominated recording of P.J. and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

P.J. has recently been performing his own show "The Joy of Sax" with orchestras across Canada. He has also performed with the Edmonton Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony, Kamloops Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Vancouver Island Symphony.

P.J. Perry's web site is

Born in Nanaimo, B.C., bassist Neil Swainson worked for two years in Victoria with Jazz-New Age flautist Paul Horn.  Relocating to Toronto, he played with Woody Shaw frequently in the 1980s and also gigged with James Moody, George Coleman, and Zoot Sims. A member of Moe Koffman's quintet during 1978-1982, Swainson went on to gain his greatest fame when he started working with George Shearing in 1988, an association that continued into the late '90s.

Neil has written and recorded original music with a co-operative band called JMOG.  The album "49th Parallel" was first released in 1989.  It is mostly Swainson compositions, with Woody Shaw & Joe Henderson up front.

Now one of Canada's most respected Jazz greats, Neil's recording and performing associations also include Ernestine Anderson, Ed Bickert, Pat Coleman, Herb Ellis, Joe Farrell, Oliver Gannon, Slide Hampton, Pat LaBarbera, Rob McConnell, Ian McDougall, Jay McShann, PJ Perry, Zoot Sims, and Sonny Stitt among others.

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