December 20, 2016

Jingle By Request

This blog entry was prompted by a request from Fred, a loyal blog reader.
Holiday recordings typically live out their lives as background music. Every store at this time of year pipes in the familiar tunes by a multitude of artists. Even in the home, holiday music is usually turned on to provide ambiance. I’m happy to say that Béla Fleck and the Flecktones’ “Jingle All the Way” CD rises far above that level of listening. If you choose just one holiday recording to actually sit and listen to, you can’t go wrong with “Jingle All the Way.” We spoke of this inventive release in our blog in December of 2014, and the constantly shifting arrangement of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
The album opens with “Jingle Bells” and employs the arranging scenario of “everything, including the kitchen sink.” This 3-1/2 minute version of the standard of holiday standards, includes the sound of a galloping horse, a flute, a rather disco-ish repetitive bass line, synthesized percussion, bluegrass banjo picking, and (best of all) Tuvan throat singers vocalizing the lyrics to “Jingle Bells” in what I assume is their native Tibetan language. If you put this cut on at the typical background music level, your curiosity will draw you to the volume control so you can give a good listen to what is actually going on. Highly recommended.


  1. That Bèla version is great. I'm also partial to this arrangement by Greg Kurstin of 'The Bird and the Bee' -- stick with it until the modulations and reharmonizations start to go completely off the rails:

  2. Yikes! I can see this useful for a final exam in Advanced Harmony class, the assignment would be to transcribe it without using a piano for help.