Music: December 2006 Archives

Hear the angels sing

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Tonight, December 16, at 7:30, the Tulsa Boy Singers will be performing a Christmas concert at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. (Because of construction at the church, it's easiest to use the western entrance on Cincinnati.)

This is their second performance. I attended last night, and it was a beautiful performance, a mix of sacred and secular classics of the season. Here's the program (the links will take you to lyrics):

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, Elizabeth Poston
Resonemus Laudibus, arranged by David Willcocks
Confirma hoc Deus, Jacob Handl
Ave Maria, Franz Biebl
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C, Charles V. Stanford
Torches, John Joubert
Carols, arranged by David Willcocks (O Come, All Ye Faithful, The First Nowell, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing)

Masters in This Hall, arranged by David Willcocks
Ave Maria, Franz Schubert
What Sweeter Music, Michael Fink
Carol of the Bells, Mykola Leontovich
Midwinter, Bob Chilcott
Winter Wonderland, arranged by Roger Emerson
Twelve Days of Christmas, arranged by John Rutter
Sleigh Ride, arranged by Hawley Ades

"Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," is a beautiful, simple a capella folk tune that opens the concert as the boys process from the back of Trinity's Gothic Revival sanctuary.

The older boys -- altos, tenors, and basses -- beautifully rendered the lush harmonies of Biebl's "Ave Maria." (Here's an excerpt performed by the Western Illinois University Singers.)

My favorite piece may have been "Midwinter," a pretty new setting of Christina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter":

Our God, heaven cannot hold him
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him
give my heart.

The audience is invited to sing along on three carols at the end of the first part of the program, and again in the second half on "Winter Wonderland."

Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted and will help fund their planned Summer 2007 performance tour of Britain. A reception with savory and sweet treats follows the concert.

Tyson Wynn linked to this video of Asleep at the Wheel performing Cindy Walker's "Cherokee Maiden" from the "Ride with Bob" album. The video has glimpses of each of the guest artists who perform other songs on the album. (I didn't spot Don Walser -- the Pavarotti of the Plains -- but he must have been in there.)

Tyson pointed out that the drummer (Dave Sanger) is wearing a KVOO Radio Ranch t-shirt, KVOO ("The Voice of Oklahoma") being the radio station that was the first home base for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. (KVOO is still around as an FM station at 98.5, but the old frequency of 1170 kc belongs to KFAQ, just across the hallway, whose airwaves I modulate every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.)

A review of Radio Days

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I just received a CD called Radio Days by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. The CD was issued in 2005 by Tomato Records. I was excited when I first spotted this online because this appeared to be a radio broadcast of the Texas Playboys, complete with the opening and closing themes. While the CD is not exactly what I expected, it's still well worth having for any fan of the Texas Playboys. Here's the review I just posted to

Like the Tiffany Transcriptions series, these tracks, recorded for or from radio, capture Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys at their loosest and swingingest, the way you might have heard them at a dance hall.

While this disc is set up to flow as if it were a single broadcast, in fact it's a combination of a transcription done around 1945 (tracks 1-15, 28-29) and a broadcast from 1953 (tracks 16-27). It's almost seamless, but Wills scholars will notice differences in the names that Bob calls out for solos.

The 1945 section features Tommy Duncan on vocals, Bob Wills, Louis Tierney, and Joe Holley on fiddle, Alex Brashear on trumpet, Millard Kelso on piano, and Junior Barnard on standard guitar, with announcer Ross Franklin. You'll get to hear Tommy Duncan sing the opening Playboys theme, as well as "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "Empty Chair at the Table," "Take Me Back to Tulsa," and a duet with Bob on the blues call-and-response "I'm Talkin' about You." Les Anderson provides vocals on "Stardust." Nearly everyone takes a solo on instrumentals "Lone Star Rag" and "Liberty," including a couple of Junior Barnard's proto-rock'n'roll guitar solos. Junior is also featured on "I'm Talkin' about You" and "Take Me Back to Tulsa."

The 1953 tracks seem to have the same tracklist as an LP called "Rare 1953 California Radio Broadcasts Volume 2." Jack Lloyd and Bill Choate take the vocal duties, and you'll hear Skeeter Elkin on piano, Keith Coleman on fiddle, Billy Bowman on steel guitar, and Eldon Shamblin on standard guitar, with announcer Lou Stevens. There's mention between songs of the band playing dances at Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim and Bob doing a transcription for Armed Forces Radio with Carolina Cotton. "Tuxedo Junction" features some fine solos from Skeeter Elkin and Billy Bowman. Louise Rowe and Keith Coleman sing a duet on "Got You on My Mind."

Beyond the great music, the between-songs banter makes this a disc worth having just to get the sense of what it was like to tune in to the daily broadcasts.

It's that banter that sets this recording apart from the Tiffany Transcriptions. (Presumably, the original Tiffany Transcription discs included introductions and banter, but that hasn't been included on the compilations that Rhino issued.)

I still dream of hearing a radio broadcast from the band's heyday at KVOO in Tulsa, but I suspect those shows are only extant in the Celestial Archive.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from December 2006.

Music: November 2006 is the previous archive.

Music: January 2007 is the next archive.

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