Christmas songs in jazz style

On Friday December 11th, the band Dukat was booked for playing at the annual christmas ball for the seniors at the Vitalitetssenteret in Bergen. Most of the job consisted of playing background music, which we did for nearly 3 hours, from 6 pm to 9 pm, followed by one set of dance music from 9 – 10 pm.

For the backgroung playing, we chose repertoire of traditional christmas song, both norwegian and international, and added some evergreens, mainly pop songs from the sixties. This proved to be a great opportuniy to play trio jazz in an informal setting. Our approach to the songs was to play through the form a few times to present the theme, then to treat the song as any standard jazz tune. We only had one rehearsal in advance, so most of the job was done sight reading. 

An old, and to us unknown tune, is The Coventry Carol, an English carol. It suits well to improvise on the form, as a slow jazz walts. In a mionor, ending on an a major, we did not make an alternative turnaround, but stayed within the original harmonisation. We did Mitt hjerte alltid vanker, which is an old scandinavian tune dating back to 1732, . This lent it self very well to improvisation. I have cut the theme in the uploaded file to get straight to the solo. Not much of a christmas song, but still a good piece for trio playing, is Bo Kasper’s Hon er så søt når hun sover.

Of the more traditional christmas-jazz-tunes, are The christmas song and When you wish upon a star. None of these are reharmonised, but played straight off the Tenn Lys! song book. In general, the chord material has been modified by simply altering the dominants and playing the chords  adding as quartal chords. Finally, Cry me a river was added to the repertoire. A great composition and a great chord progression for improvisation.

Ø. Kvinge

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