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December 13, 2012 9:20 am

The Amend Corner: Take five

Written by Don Amend

Last week was the official opening of the iTunes Christmas playlist on our family computer.

With Thanksgiving coming a week early this year, the commercial world tried its best to get me to begin listening to Christmas music more than a week before Dec. 1, but, as always, I resisted the call until the November calendar page hit the waste basket, and began my own musical salute to Christmas in all its manifestations — the sacred, the secular and the downright silly — in the proper month. I did notice that one Christmas album inexplicably was played sometime in July, but that’s a small deviation hardly worth noticing.

Most years, the old iMac plays nothing but Christmas music through Dec. 25, and maybe even a couple days after that. In other words, if I’m not listening to the news on the radio, I probably have Christmas, or at least seasonal, music filling my ears.

Lest you get the idea that such a fixation on yuletide melodies would get a bit monotonous, rest assured that there’s enough variety in the collection to make boredom just about impossible. An old standard, say a traditional rendering of “Silent Night,” is quite likely to be followed by something somewhat noisier, such as the “Hallelujah Chorus,” or something completely off the wall. One accidental addition to the collection last year, for example, was a collection of big band holiday  songs from the 1940s, which includes “Don’t Give Me No Goose for Christmas,” by the Korn Kobblers, which, I assure you, is even dumber than it sounds.

Last week, though, I had to interrupt the Christmas stuff for a while in order to take note of the death of jazz great Dave Brubeck. For a couple of hours, Dave’s piano and the various groups he formed over the years played his own “Take Five” along with his interpretations of songs ranging from Disney movie tunes to jazz standards. And sometime this week, I’ll listen to “The Light in the Wilderness,” Brubeck’s oratorio about the Temptation of Christ.

I’ve been a fan of Dave Brubeck since I first heard his album “Take Five,” an event that, strangely enough, happened at church camp when I was in high school. Why I was listening to jazz at church camp in 1959 is another story, but I assure you, it was entirely appropriate at the time.

Hearing Brubeck’s music back then is memorable for me, because it opened my ears to jazz. As a teen, of course, I preferred a diet of Top 40 rock and roll back then, tempered by my parent’s musical tastes, which leaned toward pop hits of the 30s and 40s. It took a few years before the seed that was planted began to affect my wallet in a big way, since my wallet was rather thin back then. Eventually, though recorded jazz joined with other types to fill my shelf with LPs, and when the CD revolution came, my first digital purchase was that same “Take Five” album.

That’s why, last week, I stopped celebrating Christmas for a few hours to remember Dave Brubeck, and why, before the evening was over, I had visited the iTunes store and supplemented my Christmas music with “A Dave Brubeck Christmas.”

After all, if there’s room for “Don’t Give Me No Goose for Christmas” on my Christmas playlist, there’s plenty of room for a little more Dave Brubeck.

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