Piano Jazz swings in the holiday season as host Marian McPartland and her guests past and present share favorite holiday memories, when they're not performing Christmas classics and original holiday tunes.
George Shearing, Marian McPartland "Let It Snow" (S. Kahn, J. Styne)
George Shearing "Snowfall" (C. Thornhill)
Tony DeSare "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" (I. Berlin)
Marian McPartland "Good King Wenceslas" (Traditional)
Carli Munoz Improvisations on "The 12 Days of Christmas" (Traditional)
Mimi Fox, Marian McPartland, Gary Mazzaroppi "Joy to the World" (I. Watts)
Renee Fleming "What Child Is This?" (W.C. Dix)
Robin Meloy Goldsby "First Snow" (R.M. Goldsby)
Susannah McCorkle, McPartland "A Child Is Born" (A. Wilder, T. Jones)
Dena DeRose "The Christmas Song" (M. Torme, B. Wells)
George Shearing and McPartland play a lively duet in "Let It Snow," and Shearing gives a solo performance of the lovely "Snowfall" by Claude Thornhill. Next, singer Tony DeSare does his cozy interpretation of Irving Berlin's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." And McPartland plays solo on "Good King Wenceslas," one of the first tunes she learned as a child in Bromley, England.
Piano Jazz regularly features new tunes written for the holiday season, and the tradition continues with Robin Meloy Goldsby's original composition, "First Snow." This tune was inspired by a performance Goldsby gave at a German castle during the first snowfall of the season, and the opening notes instantly paint this magical scene.
Another recent addition to the holiday canon follows with "A Child Is Born." McPartland rescued this Alec Wilder/Thad Jones tune from Wilder's waste bin because she felt it fit the spirit of the season perfectly. Singer Susannah McCorkle's performance on Piano Jazz really makes the case for this future holiday classic.
Pianist Cleo Brown and McPartland then perform a stunning duet in "Silent Night." Brown's playing lends a Duke Ellington feel to the tune, and she even improvises a lyric. The holiday special wraps up with another great tune, in which Freddie Cole, brother of Nat "King" Cole, plays and sings his original titled "I Want a Smile for Christmas." Happy Holidays, everyone!
Several of these performances are collected on An NPR Jazz Christmas With Marian McPartland and Friends, Volumes I, II and III, available through the NPR Shop and select retailers.