This is the day I’ve been waiting for. It’s Christmas! And it’s time for my favorite Christmas song, my favorite comic strip and my favorite vocal group. Isn’t it magical when it all comes together? It’s a Christmas miracle!
It should come as no surprise that my favorite comic strip is Walt Kelly’s Pogo. A lot of comics have their Christmas traditions, but in my mind it’s Pogo that is most closely associated with Christmas because every year Kelly did some variation of his parody of “Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly.” In the unique Pogo-ese spoken by the swamp critters, it came out as “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie.”
Although Kelly had illustrated the song in the funnies, published the lyrics in books, and even included the sheet music in “Songs of the Pogo,” it fell to a jazz vocal group to first record the song. If you’re not hip to Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, allow me to hip you.
Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross were jazz fans, first and foremost. Plus they were great singers. They came together out of a mutual interest in singing jazz. But much of the music they liked best had no words, and they were not content to simply scat (although they did that very well also). Rather than nonsense like “boop shoo-bop, scree-bop sh-bang” as other jazz singers might have sung, Hendricks wrote actual, meaningful words to music that had none, taking jazz solos that had been freely improvised and writing words that matched them, note-for-note. The result was some of the coolest music ever from one of the coolest-looking groups ever! (Not enough singers wear tiaras these days…)
Being Pogo fans (and who isn’t?) as well as jazz fans, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross recorded a jazzy version of “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie” bringing together jazz, Christmas and Pogo in a way the world had not heard before or since. Enjoy this rare treat and feel free to sing along!
For sounds of the season, click on the bar below…
(if no bar appears please click here to listen)
— C. Yoe (in the funny papers)