Christmas Ain’t Over Yet
RC 107 / RC 108
SIDE ONE – Don Wilson’s Christmas Record
- Jingle Bells 1:38
- Away In A Manger/We Three Kings of Orient Are 2:57
- Jolly Old St. Nicholas 2:45
- Wilson’s Air Mail Express 3:19
- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen 2:11
- Empty Stocking Blues 3:30
- Deck The Halls 2:29
- O Holy Night 2:08
- First Noel/Silent Night 3:10
SIDE TWO – Don Wilson Plays Ellington
- Mood Indigo 3:37
- Sophisticated Lady/Black Butterfly (3:46)
- In A Mellotone 2:49
- C Jam Blues 3:16
- Satin Doll 3:23
- I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good 2:48
- I Let A Song Go Out of My Hear 3:12
During the past thirty years, it has been my unwavering opinion that Don Wilson is the world’s greatest jazz musician. Although this opinion does have a rather limited currency at this time, I am laying my reputation as musicologist on the line and am declaring that subsequent study and research will prove me correct.
Wilson has made Washington his home, has raised a family complete with grandchildren since his graduation from the University of Iowa in 1938.
I said to Don, “This Christmas, instead of going to all the trouble of sending out cards, let’s make a record of your organ music and save the cost of buying cards.” Before anyone with common sense could call a halt to this project, it had gone too far. Now, it occurs to us that cards must accompany the record anyway, so no real saving has been made.
Don Wilson’s comments on the music of this album:
The traditional Christmas carols have been treated with an eye, or rather an ear, to variations in harmonic structure and freedom of phrasing, rather than to the performance of jazz versions of the
The background noise of children in some numbers has nothing to do with the concept of “Christmas is really for children.” It is just a defect in our on-the-spot recording location. Also, in parts of the music are some odd noises caused by rapid changes of registration on the Hammond console. If anyone objects too strongly to these distractions, he can take advantage of our money back guarantee.
Wilson ’s Air Mail Express is a classical type composition (the composer’s definition of any piece of music in which there is a change of tempo). However, since it violates so atrociously the standards of serious
music, it is probably best suited to amuse children as a kind of musical sound effect.
The inclusion of Empty Stocking Blues is to offset the creation of a too “Happy Holiday” mood.
The side of Ellington tunes has been included for the benefit of anyone who wants to hear a bit of recorded organ music during the “off,” or non-Christmas, season.
Another musicologist who agrees with me that Don Wilson” is the world’s greatest jazz musician is Richard Gates of St. Joseph, Michigan. Mr. Gates supplied the painting for the cover of this album.
Another old friend, Jeff Bates, made the original tapes of this recording. The four-color cover of the album was printed by the Turnpike Press Swingers, Annandale, Va. And of course nothing could have been done without the help of Atlantic Records’ Nesuhi Ertegun, a friend of Wilson’s from way back.
THOUGHTS FROM THE KING
The title of this album just seemed ripe for a post-holiday share…
For someone that the liner notes alludes to as “the world’s greatest jazz musician”, I can’t find any information about the Don Wilson who released this album as a personal Christmas card to friends and family. It’s pretty clear that’s what this is. There is no label/record company to note (even given the name dropping of Ahmet Ertegun’s brother Nesuhi…).
This is a decidedly low budge affair. My guess is that they put a mic and a tape player in the room where Don had his organ and let him play (as the liner notes allude to). It’s just Don and his organ. The arrangements are ‘jazzy’ more than jazz (IMO), but they’re certainly not performed in the vein of traditional sacred organ carols. The Duke Ellington numbers on the flipside are performed in a distinctly soporific style (and I include them here merely for completeness).
It seems clear that the most interesting thing about this record is the sleeve. It seems that most of the budget for this little project went to the painting and printing of the cover art, which is super swanky. I bought the record based solely on the cover art and was hoping for music that was more hip than what I got.
But that’s what I got and what I’m sharing with you. And if you can find any info on Don, please post it in the comments.
(There are all kinds of organizational issue with this album. It’s hard to tell if the words on the cover are the actual title, given that the sides are labeled “Don Wilson’s Christmas Album” and “Don Wilson Plays Duke Ellington”. And while I have presented the Christmas music as Side One, due to its nature as a Christmas album, the Ellington side is labeled “RC 107” and the Christmas side “RC 108”. Feel free to rename or retag files as you prefer.)