Christmas music

Beyond the angelic hosts: A personal Christmas soundtrack

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When I was growing up I remember our family having five Christmas records – a compilation of the standard pop tunes, organ and chimes of sacred tunes, pre-Rudolph Burl Ives, the Chipmunks and a ”A Christmas  Carol” performed by Lionel Barrymore. Besides that it was carols around the piano with my mother accompanying my talented older brothers, with me elbowing my way in as I could and my father in his chair tapping with both feet.  There were the pop tunes bleeding from the radio, though this was before the time of wall-to-wall holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And then there was music at church. A full-blown French Midnight Mass with “Il Est Ne, Le Divin Infant” (“He Is Born, The Holy Child”) and the climax “Minuit Chretiens (“O Holy Night”) sung with reedy ardor by a tenor who worked summers at the local amusement park, and probably in one of the factories nearly the church otherwise. I loved the music, every year, seemingly having a favorite hymn. By high school I scoured a collection of international carols for oddities, and studied the notes about origins of tunes. Years later when Linda and I bought a piano – our first was a freebee old upright that weighed about as much as Santa’s sleigh fully packed – the first music we bought was that same “The International Book of Christmas Carols.” Now we have three copies, one each for piano players in the family, Linda and son Phil, who declared at age 8 “it’s never too early for Christmas music,” and one for trombone – my days of reading over the pianist’s shoulder without my putting them in danger of injury from my slide are long gone. As a high schooler, my friends and I would schlep from church to church playing for services. One particular night I and three trombone playing buddies did our part for Christian ecumenicalism by playing Bach chorales as a prelude to Midnight Mass. My background, though, is in jazz. When I started reviewing jazz recordings for Cadence magazine. I took on the job of doing an annual survey of Christmas releases. Now I recall the days when jazz…