Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Be-Bop Santa Claus : Sweet Daddy Lowe


Writing about this feels a little like telling secrets, but I've got to blurb the finest retelling of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" there ever was. The song, as you might imagine from the title, is a jazz version where Santa drives a red Cadillac and leaves behind Dizzy Gillespie records. Sadly, I don't know as much about it as I would like. "Be-Bop Santa Claus," written by Lloyd Williams, was originally recorded by Babs Gonzales in 1954. The B side of the record was a song called "Manhattan Fable." It's appeared on a few jazz Christmas collections over the years, like Hipsters' Holiday, which features Louis Armstrong on the cover dressed as Santa. Might want to Google that one.

I first heard the song on WMOT, which is a public radio station in Middle Tennessee that plays jazz. The version I heard in 2002 though, was by Sweet Daddy Lowe. It popped up on Blue Note Records' Yule Be Boppin' Christmas compilation in 1997, and more recently on the label's newer compilation Blue Christmas. No disrespect to Babs, but the Sweet Daddy Lowe version is my favorite. It's moodier.

"Be-Bop Santa Claus" is typically my secret weapon when it comes to Christmas mixes, but it's such a cool song, I think you should take it for a spin.

In the words of Be-Bop Santa, "Have a crazy cool Christmas, but don't get knocked out."

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