Christmas Cornucopia – Fifth Day

Our Sleigh is picking up a very special passenger today. He’s here to sing and play on a Christmas song, ‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’ that has the effervescence of a fine champagne. Of course, I’m talking about Louis Armstrong.

If they ever get round to carving four heads into a mountain to celebrate musicians in the way that Presidents are celebrated at Mount Rushmore there can be no argument among men and women of reason that the first head to be carved must be that of Louis Armstrong.

I could set out an exhaustive list of his astounding achievements as the preeminent musician of the 20th century with special reference to his role as the pioneer genius who transformed a past time into an art form and who influenced everyone with open ears who ever had the good fortune to hear him play. But, others far better qualified than I have written major scholarly tomes on the subject.

So, I will limit myself to a few remarks on the effect hearing the great man has had on me. When I hear Louis play (at every period of his career) I hear the sound of a master musician revelling in the sheer joy of making music. It was as if he lived and breathed through playing his horn – singing a song of exultation; using without reserve the wondrous gifts of imagination and creative daring yoked to technical brilliance that made him a such a unique musician.

Add to that his personal warmth and ebullience and you have a musician and a man who simply made everyone who encountered him feel better, more human and more glad to be alive. Isn’t what Santa Claus is supposed to do too?

Zat You, Santa? Zat You, Louis?

Next a singer, Kay Starr, who knew how to swing and who the chops to share a bandstand with the finest musicians of her era. Born on a reservation in Oklahoma with an Iroquois father and an Irish/Native American mother she was as American as you can be. Maybe that’s how she could sing the hell out of any song in any genre of American popular music.

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Kay had an inbuilt sense of rhythm and the ability to musically inhabit and sell a lyric. Listen here to how she brings out the drive and the humour of, ‘Everybody’s Waitin’ For The Man With The Bag’. One of the co-writers of the song was Dudley Brooks who featured earlier in the list featuring Elvis Presley.

I can’t honestly say I have done everything I should this year (extra special good) but I can recognise an extra special good singer when I hear one and Kay Starr must be one of the best and merriest we ever did have!

Today’s poem is, ‘Advent: A Carol’ by Patric Dickinson a writer who revered and translated the Clasical poets while looking at the world himself with a sharply individual measured intelligence.

‘What did you hear?
Said stone to echo:
All that you told me
Said echo to stone.

Tidings, said echo,
Tidings, said stone,
Tidings of wonder
Said echo to stone.

Who then shall hear them?
Said stone to echo:
All people on earth,
Said echo to stone.

Turned into one,
Echo and stone,
The world for all coming
Turned into one.’

9 thoughts on “Christmas Cornucopia – Fifth Day

  1. Pingback: Christmas Cornucopia – Fifth Day | galvanini

  2. Great mischievous song by St Louis, Thom! Tongue planted firmly in those trumpeter’s cheeks 🙂 And a lovely big band song by Kay Starr who has a great voice – one from my dad’s LP cabinet…. Also love the (dare I say very Zen ?) poem by PD.

    Liked by 1 person

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