Holidays of Exclusion

It is important to belong. You often belong to others. Sometimes you’re forced, for a moment or two, to belong only to yourself. We appreciate the self-defending, but that’s usually a private affair. Public belonging is an important part of the rituals of society. There’s nothing worse than being invited to a party, or a celebration, that ends up not including you. Jews are left out of Christmas. Christians are left out of Chanukah. Formal national and religious celebrations are both inclusionary and exclusionary — all by dreary design. The list of official holidays in the USA is getting to the point of unfortunate ridiculousness, rendering all events meaningless in the mess.

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Jazzing the Holidays

If you have any sort of mainstream musical career, one of your best bets for creating an afterlife legacy is to record a Christmas album or two or ten.  Every sugary Pop star for the last 30 years has some sort of wintertime holiday album for sale.  Bing Crosby is the reigning king of the Christmas album and his fine, monetary example, is what leads all new singers-in-search-of-longevity into lining up to record these, often tired, musical memes.

I prefer my holiday music with a Jazz tinge and I’ll share with you three of my all-time favorite albums.  First up is magnificent Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell’s “Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas” where he fires up his six-string archtop and lets us have it right between the eyes.  Kenny’s playing is always dynamic and ferocious and he adds tremendous energy and innovation into these seasonal standards.  Kenny’s whipping strings will hypnotize you and set you back on your heels.  He sets the jewel standard in Jazz guitar no matter the tonal topic.

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