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The Hot Club of San Francisco - Cool Yule

Cool Yule

The Hot Club of San Francisco

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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

For this one, the hot jazz combo The Hot Club of San Francisco ranged far and wide to bring together traditional and not-so-traditional tunes guaranteed to put the hipshake back in your Noel. The real reason for the gatherum is the group's pining for a holiday tribute that Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli never made, so Cool Yule doubles up on that desire by gathering in such composers as Steve Allen, Duke Ellington, Mel Torme, Vince Guaraldi, Tchaikovsky, and others to spice up yer eggnog and slip a little Santa rumble quietly into the rum.

Don Rudolfo, done in European old country stylings, alone is worth the trip to the Balkans, where you'll find that the idea of visiting Young Frankenstein in his ancestral abode for some holiday cheer and carol singing ain't such a bad idea despite that bolts in the neck gig (throw some tinsel on 'em!). Then jazz out to the Django Djingle Bells, a swingin' version of the classic tuned up for caffeinated hipsters. For much of the disc, The Hot Club fractionated into sub-groups: Pazzo and the Hotheads, The Cool Yule Philharmonic, The Ivory Club Boys, and so on. Of course, there are plenty of slow numbers, Sugar Run Cherry being one, The Christmas Song another, so's you can snuggle up to your significant other once the flat foot floy-floying is done.

Obviously, these cats had a ball making the CD, Santa Claus is Coming to Town pretty much proves that, but they were also respectful of the season, putting the two sides together in the closing 7:40 version of Auld Lang Syne, a cooking version that starts out somber, then catches fire from a roaring winter's hearth and goes to town. As a stocking stuffer, the now-n-then liner of the photos of the musicians as adults and as kids is an Our Gang tip of the hat that'll bring a smile to the faces of all and sundry. Oh, and don't fall for the ending to that last cut: keep listening as there's a brief snatch of We Wish You a Merry Christmas as a reprise, which I suspect will try to seduce you to play the disc a second time. Don't resist the temptation.

Track List:

  • Cool Yule (Steverino Allen)
  • Don Rudolfo (Johnny Marks) (arr: Mehling)
  • Carol of the Bells (trad / Guaraldi) (ar: Price)
  • I'll be Home for Christmas (Ram / Gannon / Kent) (arr: Price)
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside (Frank Loesser)
  • Djingle Bells (James Pierpont) (arr: Mehling)
  • Sugar Rum Cherry (Tchaikovsky / Ellington / Strayhorn) (arr: Price)
  • I Wonder as I Wander (trad) (arr: Price)
  • March of the Toys (Victor Herbert) (arr: Price)
  • The Christmas Song (Torme / Wells)
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Coots / Gillespie)
  • Auld Lang Syne (trad)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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