Jingle Bells' is a very serious song," says multi-reed instrumentalist Victor Goines, smiling. "It cannot be undermined. There are kids all over the world depending on us to keep that song alive, and we have a lot of fun with it." Goines, along with some old friends, including Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, bring back the swing for the holidays with the annual Red Hot Holiday Stomp on December 6, 7 and 8.
Victor Goines has been a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 1993 and was Juilliard's first Director of Jazz Studies and conductor of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. He has five recordings to his credit.
"While it has a certain simplicity in the melody, the challenge of 'Jingle Bells' stems from ensuring that the song is played annually, so that we can cement that holiday spirit. We don't want that type of song, or any song that's as important as 'Jingle Bells' to be forgotten by anyone. So that's why it's so important for us to come back and play our holiday favorites," he says.
"The band for Red Hot Holiday Stomp is like a good family," Goines continues. "As Wynton often says, it's 'dysfunctional, but a good family." Playing with the band, Goines says, is "like a good family reunion. You need those now and then to get the spirit back to where it should be."
The tradition of Red Hot Holiday Stomp concerts began in 2003 and continues to grow and evolve over the years with something new each season. This year the lineup includes Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson (alto saxophone), Victor Goines (clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones), Joe Temperley (baritone saxophone), Don Vappie (guitar), Dan Nimmer (piano), Reginald Veal (bass), Herlin Riley (drums), and Roberta Gumbel (vocals).
These musicians have New Orleans in their blood, and the clarinet always seems to bring thoughts of the Big Easy. "The clarinet is like an ingredient to a good roux that you're whipping up for a New Orleans gumbo," says Goines. Explaining his own importance in the roux mix, Goines says there exists a dialogue between three horns: the trumpet, the trombone and the clarinet, all supported by the rhythm section. "Each instrument has a certain tonal range that is its own territory," says Goines. To this mix will be the added flavorings of alto saxophonist Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson, who recently suffered a stroke but resumed playing almost immediately. "He's gonna be there," says Goines, "and he's a very important part of that roux that takes place in New Orleans music and in jazz, period."
For Goines, the year-round joy that jazz brings him stems from the opportunity to be with people from all cultures around the world, both musically and non-musically. "It's a joy to be able to play for people and interact with them and experience the spontaneity that comes from being on the bandstand."
"The one thing I would like our kids (young and old) to hear is that it's important to come and take part in Red Hot Holiday Stomp," says Goines. "As with all of the programming of Jazz at Lincoln Center, it's important that they try a dish, a concert. Try many before you decide whether you like it or not," Goines offers.
The Red Hot Holiday Stomp is December 6-7 at 8 p.m. and December 8 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Rose Theater. For the complete listing of all Jazz at Lincoln Center 2007-08 events, visit www.jalc.org.