For details on our upcoming performances, please see below “Santa Songs 2014.”
Coming into the home stretch of rehearsing for Santa Songs 2014, I just burned a CD of accompaniment by Mark Burnell from our work together to facilitate staging work. Listening back to what we did in October, I can’t tell you how happy I am and proud to be associated with such a fine musician. Mark makes our rehearsals a joy and the show has grown beautifully with his music direction. Of course we had the advantage of starting with the previous work as a basis; so the contributions of Liesl Bell, Paul Goldman and Matthew Ellenwood contribute to what we have achieved as well, no question.
The thing I’m most pleased with (besides his general appreciation for the program and what I’m trying to achieve) is the light hearted jazzy take on several pieces. Let’s be clear here. I’m no jazz singer, but I’m making baby steps in that direction. I love to wail on the bluesy Santa Claus is Coming (to Town) and Here Comes Santa Claus is starting to swing. Our duet, Waiting for Christmas Day has more than a little lilt, it has the contrapuntal sauciness that Willson must have intended. I hope you will enjoy these arrangements as much as I do!
Put these together with the original material from Paul L. Johnson, created for me in collaboration and we have quite a varied program. My partner David and I also wrote a parody of a Christmas standard to celebrate children’s wishes (and Santa’s mail-bag). You won’t hear any of these songs anywhere but here. And there are just enough of old favorites and novelties to warm the heart too.
The show now has a four year gestation period and it’s getting richer every time we work on it. Last weekend David and I took in the CD release party for SUMMER DAYS & DREAMY NIGHTS, Anne Burnell’s collaboration with Henry Johnson (the remarkable Jazz guitarist) and his All Star Band. Anne (Mark’s wife and singing partner) reminded us of what a long gestation period that CD had. What an evening! Mark and Anne were both delectable. But what a band! All Stars indeed. You should check out the CD on Amazon and certainly “Like” Anne on Facebook. I sure do.
Mark is such an excellent jazz pianist. But he also has a rich music theater background and that is the place where our two talent’s meet. Now if I can stretch just a tad to the jazz side, wouldn’t that be a hoot. The Christmas Pie may have some new spice in it after all.