Two Holiday Transcriptions: Bird and Mark Turner

I find jazz Christmas music to be a strange cultural phenomenon, having not grown up with it playing around the house during the late Nov.-late Dec. seasons. But, after playing a couple holiday party-type gigs around campus this year, I understand why the tradition is so deeply rooted in the winter consumer cycle: the melodies are simple and catchy! And so they're also easy to pick up if you haven't played them before, which is a huge plus if you're being asked to play x or y holiday song by a frantic hostess and have to transcribe the bass player's sotto voce rendition of said song in a couple seconds. 

I thought I'd transcribe a couple more involved holiday tunes for Christmas: Charlie Parker blowing on Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," live at the Royal Roost on Christmas day, 1948; and Mark Turner's solo on the Willy Wonka classic "Pure Imagination," from the curious Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party (1997) compilation, recorded half a century later. Bird's sound on this early record is particularly noteworthy—rounded but focused, with a distinctively ringing vibrato—and he slips in the obligatory holiday quote, too. 

On the Warner Bros. record, Mark Turner plays over a very '90s-sounding** arrangement of "Pure Imagination," straight-8th in 6, that isn't reharmonized too extensively but does stretch the otherwise straightforward harmony with a few interpolated substitutions. 

You can also hear this track here. Merry Christmas!

**By "'90s-sounding," I don't mean 'dated,' but just...'90s-sounding. Or early 2000s-sounding, too, I'd say. Maybe a future post on '90s-early 2000s jazz-stereotypes as a natural descendant of '80s-neo-hard-bop? I'll file this away for later.