Let's face it, even Santa Claus, miracle man that he is, can't do it all alone. So for what has become a great holiday tradition, the man in the red suit recruits the help of his holiday-loving musical friends at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Wycliffe Gordon leads the talented ensemble on trombone and tuba, and he's joined by Aaron Diehl (piano), Victor Goines (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Sherman Irby (alto saxophone), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Herlin Riley (drums), Joe Temperley (baritone saxophone), Don Vappie (banjo), and Reginald Veal (bass). Also returning this year is vocalist Niki Harris.
Gordon says the holiday spirit is contagious. "People just relate to that time being a time of the year that you're going to be getting together with family and friends: everybody looks forward to getting off work and kids look forward to getting out of school. In general, it's just a time to celebrate. Some people prepare for it all year."
While Gordon and the gang know the grownups love it, so do the kids. "I have six kids," Gordon confides. "They always love the show."
Born in Waynesboro, Georgia, Gordon was first introduced to music by his late father Lucius Gordon, a classical pianist and teacher. His interest in the trombone was sparked at age 12 by his elder brother who played the instrument in his junior high school band. Egged on by sibling rivalry, Gordon's relentless pleading with his parents led to his first trombone. A year later, an aunt bequeathed the Gordon family her jazz record collection, and so began his passion for jazz music.
"I love music," Gordon says. "Trombone just happens to be my main instrument. Whether I'm playing trombone, piano, tuba, or singing, I just love music."
At Red Hot Holiday Stomp, you can expect to hear holiday classics and then some. Gordon says, "tell the people to come check out the show and have a great time. There's something in the show for everyone: a little gospel, dancing, and singing. It will definitely be a festive occasion.
"I'll try to get the crew at Jazz at Lincoln Center to see if they can lower me down over the audience with my tuba," says Gordon, "like in The Phantom of the Opera. Just kidding."
Jazz at Lincoln Center Executive Producer Laura Johnson says Red Hot Holiday Stomp is an alternative to the usual holiday shows, "Many of these great holiday songs are given a traditional New Orleans jazz treatment: a front line of trombone, clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet, and a buoyant street feel in the rhythm section."
Johnson adds, "This concert captures the joy of New Orleans' comradarie and
festivities. It's uplifting; New Orleans jazz combined with the feeling of the season."
Come join the festive frolicking in Rose Theater, December 9 _11, and don't forget the Family Matinee, December 11 at 2 p.m. For more information and to hear more from Wycliffe Gordon, visit youtube.com/JazzatLincolnCenter.