Friday, December 24, 2010

"The Christmas Song"

The one version of co-writers Bob Wells and Mel Torme's classic holiday hit that for me must be heard at Christmas is that of Nat King Cole. As a child enjoying the wonders and magic of Christmas, it would not have been complete without hearing his rendition. What made this tiny tot's eyes all aglow was the fact that my now legendary uncle, Irving Ashby, was guitarist for the Nat King Cole trio. Talk about proud!

"Chestnuts roasting..." and The Nat King Cole Trio were synonymous in our household. Special in King's version of "The Christmas Song" was the simple guitar voicing. I spent many a time with the trio backstage at the RKO Theater in New York City as a young boy, where I was privileged to hear this and many other Nat King Cole classics.

Recently, my wife and I journeyed to my hometown of Boston to perform at the celebration of our friend and colleague Ellen Cantaro, whose birthday party was attended by friends and relatives, all who champion her tremendous accomplishments as a writer, jazz pianist, and teacher. Many fine artists performed that night. I first met Ellen when her love for beauty in all things brought her to my home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts some ten years ago, beginning her exploration of the art of Bel Canto--my passion.

The entire event was truly memorable. We were even treated to a film documentary showing Ellen from infancy to the present, a very personal gift from her beloved husband, Jack. Among the artists was Angela Rossi a former student and native Italian, born & raised. Miss Rossi is an extraordinary young singer, watch for her!!!

No one sang "The Christmas Song,"but we all gave Ellen our very best. The banquet style service and the musical presentations ranging from Brazilian folk music, cabaret, and Jazz to European Classics made the evening a complete success.

Coming from a family of musicians and years of performing and teaching, the gift of Christmas was present in the bond we all shared: the precious years of learning
and giving.

Finally, my dear friends: Although it's been said, many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to You.

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