Respect In Yule is now available on iTunes! Check it out!
Here are the liner notes, which detail each track (pdf available here):
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‘Tis the season, isn’t’t?
And, lo, on a balmy May evening in the year 5772, The Respect Sextet mustered its cheer, laid down its plowshares, raised up its instruments, and made its way unto the studio — a-wassailing and laughing all the way — to beget an album full of tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. And this shall be an album unto you.
And that’s what it’s all about.
In choosing the repertoire for Respect In Yule, we made a list of our favorite holiday music, checked it thrice, and shouted out with glee. (Sotto voce, of course.) A few words on the tunes we deemed nice:
Christmas Must Be Tonight
A longstanding Wierenga family Christmas Eve tradition is to listen to this song, played by The Band, over and over again. With the release of the present album (double entendre intended), we urge in the strongest possible manner that the tradition be amended and that the Wierenga family now listen to this band’s version of the song, over and over again.
Suddenly It’s Christmas
This is a wry commentary by Loudon Wainwright III on how soon—well before the holiday proper—“the season is upon us.” Our friends Brad Lubman and the JACK Quartet assist at the end of Josh’s boisterous arrangement. (“It’s not over ’til it’s over and you throw away the tree.”)
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
A holiday season classic, this optimistically melancholic Frank Loesser composition has been recorded countless times by many a marvelous musician. Ah, but we thought we’d include it just the same (in case we stand one little chance).
Red first heard this Sir John Tavener composition at a Christmas Eve service many years ago and was moved by its simple beauty, evoking at once a lamb and a baby. He brought this piece out of its customary choral context to see what new life we (and our guests, the JACK Quartet) could breathe into it. The result is perhaps something like a lamb in sheep’s clothing.
Sevivon / I Have a Little Dreidel
No Respect Christmas album would be dry and ready to play without a solemn nod to Eli and Josh’s yearly dreidel games. Zol ikh azóy lebn, this medley combines two of the finest dreidel songs around! Joining us again for the big finish is Mr. Brad Lubman.
Bopin’ Around The Christmas Tree
This brief but formidable ditty was composed by our little drummer boy, Ted Poor. Although intended to accompany bopin’ around the Christmas tree, this tune is also suitable for accompanying bopin’ around the Yule log. Suffice it to say, if you like formidably bopin’ for brief periods of time, this is your jam.
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Jule Styne’s so delightful seasonal classic harks back to the early days of The Respect Sextet. (A version of this arrangement by Josh appeared on Respect’s very first, limited-edition CD-R, (respect.), from 2002.)
No stranger to the music of Misha Mengelberg, Respect has been playing this chestnut-roasting-o’er-an-open-fire for years. In our search for lesser known jazz Christmas melodies, we couldn’t help but make the connection—however strong or otherwise—between this tune and the proverbial most wonderful time of the proverbial (again) year. A live version of Hypochristmutreefuzz appears on Respect’s 2005 release, Respect In You.
A Spotless Rose
One of the many jewels contained in Red’s father’s large collection of Christmas LPs, this Herbert Howells choral piece always brings back great memories for Red of Christmases (Christmii?) past. What better way, we ask you, to honor these memories and the piece itself than by creating a Ethiopian-inspired arrangement, replete with jingle bells, marimba, xylophone, and strings, courtesy of Ensemble Signal? No better way, we reply. That’s what.
It’s Christmas Time
An obscure gem of the Christmas repertoire, this tune (composed by Alton Abraham and Sun Ra) was recorded by Sun Ra’s early doo-wop group, The Qualities, and released as a single—the flipside of which was Happy New Year To You! — circa 1956. A Saturn Records holiday card, which may have been mailed in conjunction with the single, reads, “To You….. Better Life Vibrations For Always.” Indeed. We are joined on this track by guitarist Marco Cappelli.
A Merrier Christmas
A recording of Thelonious Monk playing this tune was never officially released, but there is rumor of a private recording of him playing (and singing) it in the early ’70s. Does such a recording exist? There’s only one way to know for sure… and that is to guess. Monk’s lyrics begin, “Now it is Christmas time, hear the bell ring pretty sounds. Ting ting ting ting ting ting ting tong.”
Echoing the words of Dennis Wilson, spoken over The Beach Boys’ version of Auld Lang Syne on their 1964 Christmas album, “If you happen to be listening to this album right now,” Ted, Malcolm, Red, James, Eli, and Josh would like to wish every one of you a very merry Christmas, and we hope the new year brings you as much happiness as this year’s brought us.
A hearty “Ting tong!” to all, and (again) to all a “Ting tong!”