Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Sackville All Star Christmas Record, 1986

Perhaps it is characteristic of the collector mania that I sometimes am prey to, but when in the past I glanced at the Sackville Records catalogs and listings, I would often mumble "What the h?" when I saw listed an item entitled The Sackville All Star Christmas Record (Sackville 3038). With Delmark's involvement in distributing and reissuing choice Sackvilles comes, directly from Delmark in a recent promo package, that very album, available on CD, and palpable in my greasy mitts! "I'll be d_mned!" I exclaimed, or something like that.

So I've been listening and thought I'd post on it early enough that you have plenty of time to get it for the season if you are so inclined. It's a cool record with a nice twist. Needless to say it covers holiday music of the sort you might expect ("Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Silent Night") but then some welcome others you might not expect: like Bessie Smith's "At the Christmas Ball" and "Old Time Religion".

And it's not just the what, of course, but the how that sets it apart. First, to start with, one who was (for me) the unknown factor--the younger (then) sax player by name of Jim, Jim Galloway. He plays soprano here, sounding like something somewhere between Sidney Bechet, Rabbit Johnny Hodges and, perhaps a stretch, Willie Smith on soprano. He is a surprise gas--and fits right in with a beautiful trio of swing vets, Ralph Sutton on piano, Milt Hinton on bass and Gus Johnson on drums.

Everybody sounds great. But Ralph Sutton steals the show at that late date with all the punch and drive of his stride-swing style, which is killer here.

It sets off the Christmas cliches so they sound completely fresh because this is old-style jazz played with fervor and conviction.

If your world demands Christmas musical fare or you just play it because you want to be festive, to observe the season in the manner of the ancestors and all the reasons one does this--and get jaded with the commercialization and endless reiteration of horrible adaptations of "Jingle Bells" and such already filling our ears on TV ads, here is a perfect antidote. Here is a Christmas album you'll love even if you are Jewish, Zoroastrian, or any manner of faith! It has an old-jazz beauty and swing that will make a convert of you. I am sorry, I mean a jazz convert. The rest is up to you and your faith and/or beliefs. Happy Holidays early!

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