Posts Tagged ‘Christmas


The Singers Unlimited: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Another Christmas standard by The Singers Unlimited from their 1972 album “Christmas”. The piece was written in 1944 by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the musical “Meet Me In St. Louis” and performed by Judy Garland. Frank Sinatra recorded it for his album “A Jolly Christmas” but that required a small change in the lyrics. Read the story in Wikipedia. Gene Purling made a beautiful arrangement for this a capella performance. A capella is Italian for “singing in the manner of the church”. The recording ends with a spoken Christmas message by Bonnie Herman.


The Singers Unlimited: Silent Night

In 1818 Joseph Mohr, an Austrian priest from Oberndorf wrote the words for Silent Night which was set to music by his choir master Franz Xaver Gruber. Originally the German title was “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”. The Singers Unlimited recorded this song in 1972 for their fantastic album, simply called “Christmas. In the first chorus the group follows the original melodic line but the second chorus bears unmistakable the signature of arranger Gene Purling. With surprising harmonic changes which come to a beautiful solution he and the group created one of the best versions ever of this ancient song.


The Singers Unlimited: “Nigh Bethlehem”.

Alfred Shaddick Burt (1920 - 1954)

Six of the songs on the great  “Christmas” album by Singers Unlimited are original compositions by the jazz trumpeter Alfred S. Burt. The texts are by his father Bates Burt who was a rector at an Episocopalian church in Pontiac (Michigan). Burt senior had a tradition of sending an original carol to family, friends an parishioners as a Christmas card. He wrote both the music and the words of faith until his son Alfred took it upon him to write the music. Alfred was a gifted musician and became a well known jazz trumpeter and composer who also wrote a lot of original carols. Six of them have been recorded by The Singers Unlimited with arrangements of ex-HiLo’s leader Gene Purling. “Nigh Bethlehem” is a beautiful Christmas Carol and demonstrates the skills of both Burt and Purling. I do not own the rights but consider the use on this blog as “fair use” as there are no commercial intentions. All information of the Burt family can be found on Alfred Burt’s Carol Website. Click on the link below to hear “Nigh Bethlehem” by Singers Unlimited.

07 Nigh Bethlehem by Singers Unlimited from the “Christmas” Album.


Oldie But Goldie: Living Voices – Little Drummer Boy.

Somewhere in the seventies we bought the vinyl LP “Little Drummer Boy” by the Living Voices. The LP had been released in 1965 by the RCA Camden label and a lot of people still remember this album from their childhood. The music had been arranged and conducted by Anita Kerr and the whole setting is a typical sixties sound with a small combo and Kerr’s great arrangements. It contains three medleys of Christmas standards as well as songs like Blue Christmas and of course Little Drummer Boy. The album has never been re-released or digitally remastered on CD and so MP3 files were difficult to find, although all the songs are available on You Tube. I recently found a blog where you can the complete album, which seems to be a collector’s item today.


Een bijzonder Kerstalbum:”Christmas – Singers Unlimited”.

Voor een bijzonder Kerstalbum, naast dat van de Anita Kerr Singers (zie blogpost), is er een album dat wat mij betreft in de categorie “subliem” thuishoort, en dat is  Christmasvan Singers Unlimited. Wij draaien dit album bij ons thuis al jaren en het verveelt NOOIT. Singers Unlimited werd opgericht door de geniale ex-Hi-Lo’s aanvoerder en arrangeur Gene Purling die ook zijn Hi-Lo collega Don Shelton bij de groep haalde en aanvulde met zangeres Bonnie Herman en Len Dresslar. In 1972 namen ze het “Christmas” album op in de gereputeerde MPS Studio in Duitsland. Kippenvel !


Julie London: Warm December

Julie London

December One so a new month and a new season coming up which gives me the chance to look for songs that fit either the month or the season. The month of December is unique in that sense because of Christmas and the unbelievable number of great compositions being written, which started with Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”. As always I start with a song from the Julie London “Calendar Girl” album with “Warm December”. The song is written by Bob Russell whom most of you will know from The Hollies success ” He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My  Brother”.

De eerste van de maand December en een nieuw jaargetijde op komst en dat geeft me de kans weer op zoek te gaan naar nummers die bij beide passen. December is uniek in dat opzicht vanwege Kerstmis en de vele mooie composities die geschreven zijn en dat ooit begon met Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”. Zoals altijd bij een nieuwe maand begin ik met een nummer van het album “Calendar Girl” van Julie London met “Warm December”. Dat is geschreven door Bob Russell die de meesten zullen  kennen van het The Hollies succes “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

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