Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sy Mann - Everybody's Christmas Favorites

In a yuleblog entry yesterday, I mentioned that Christmas organ music was now the largest subgenre in my collection.

As I thumbed through the remaining stack of albums that I downloaded at Ernie (not Bert)'s blog last year (a mere 12 remaining from a tower of 35+ CDs), yet another CD stared at me containing Christmas organ music.

But organ music in the hands of Sy Mann, then it becomes something that deserves special attention. If the name Sy Mann sounds familiar, that's because he was one of the main forces behind "Switched On Santa" - one of the top five Christmas albums of all time.

Mann's musical education began quite young - at the age of six to be exact. His sister would hit wrong notes on her cello as she practiced and Sy would correct her by playing the right notes on the family piano!

Sy was studying music at New York University when World War II began. He quickly enlisted and spent most of his four year stint in the Army either composing, arranging, or playing in various Army and USO bands.

After WWII ended, Sy began a remarkable thirty year run in the music industry: playing in Benny Goodman's band, radio station WNEW's in-house pianist & arranger, a move to television as Arthur Godfrey's pianist, and a varied recording career not only as a pianist but also on vibraphone, trumpet, harpsichord, organ, clavietta, the Ondioline, and the Moog.

This album was recorded on the Palace label (date unknown - best guesses anyone?) and features not only Sy at the Wurlitzer but chimes as an accent. It's not his best work or the album he'll be long remembered for, but he plays so well that you get hooked from the first note on. The standout track is Sy's rendition of "Jingle Bells" - it makes you feel like you're riding in the one horse open sleigh!

I should mention the back cover. I guess Palace couldn't print the lyrics to "White Christmas" because it meant even more royalties to Irving Berlin for the pleasure. AIso, they simply added the lyrics on the back and never put the songs in the correct order on the album! In order:

1.) White Christmas
2.) Adeste Fideles
3.) Silent Night
4.) Joy To The World
5.) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
6.) Away In A Manger
7.) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8.) Jingle Bells
9.) O Little Town Of Bethlehem
10.) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
11.) The First Noel
12.) Deck The Halls
13.) We Three Kings
14.) Good King Wenceslas

According to SpaceAgePop.com, Mann recorded another Christmas album with the Artie Malvin Carolers on the Palace label. No date is given on this album as well. However, I do know that the title of the album is "Let's All Sing Christmas Carols". I found this album at a Goodwill store and plan on sharing it this upcoming Christmas after I restore the hideous back cover via PhotoShop.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...



Jeffco said...

Ironically, I picked up a copy of Switched on Santa this weekend and had digitized it, expecting to surprise you with it before discovering it on falalalala.com, thus deflating my great find. However, that leaves 7 other (less impressive) surprises for the communal collection...

CaptainOT said...

You actually have a REAL copy of the album in your hands? That's still a great find!
Would love to hear your copy so I can compare it with mine...

Thanks for thinking of me, buddy o pal o mine!


Jeffco said...

"You actually have a REAL copy of the album in your hands? That's still a great find!"

Yup. Knew nothing of the history (that's your forté). I just gasped at the cover art... (Was at a little "Antique shop" (somebody's house with piles of stuff) just South East of Algonquin Park...

Plus, two lps produced by the Ontario Lottery Corporation and CBC TV's Singalong Jubilee Singers! Can Con will be well covered this season...