Christmas songs with sax!

SA-X-MAS: Christmas Songs With Saxophone

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Approx. reading time: 7 minutes

SA-X-MAS: Various Christmas Songs With Saxophone

For the saxophone lovers there are many X-mass songs online from known and less known saxophonists. Specially since the growing popularity of “Smooth Jazz” in the 80s and 90s using the saxophone as lead instrument for X-mass songs became increasingly popular. You could fill multiple blog article with a enormous amount of Smooth Jazz Christmas songs by artists like Kenny G en Dave Koz (they released multiple Christmas albums), but for these Sa-X-Mas articles I will try to provide a more diverse “picture”.

Enjoy reading and listening … and a very merry X-mas to you all!


Saxophonist: GENE AMMONS

EugeneJugAmmons (14 April 1925 –23 July 1974),  a.k.a. “The Boss”, was an American Jazz tenor saxophonist.

SWINGIN’ FOR XMAS
This recording (a.k.a. “Jammin’ For Santa“) was recorded on Oktober 12th, 1948. Ammons played together with Tom Archia (tenor sax), Christine Chatman (piano), Leroy Jackson (double bass) and Wesley Landers (drums).

Saxophonist: CHARLIE PARKER

Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, full name: Charles Christopher Parker junior (Kansas City, 29 of August 1920 – New York, 12th of March 1955), was an American composer and (mostly alt) saxophonist. Together with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell he is considered the “inventor” of bebop

WHITE CHRISTMAS
This recording was made on December 5th, 1948 at “The Royal Roost” in New York, Parker was accompanied by Kenny Dorham (trompet), Al Haig (piano), Tommy Porter (double bass) and Max Roach (Drums).

Saxophonist: COLEMAN HAWKINS

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (21st of November 1904, St. Joseph (Missouri) – 19th of May 1969, New York) – a.k.a. “Hawk” and “Bean” – was one of the pioneers of Jazz and considered by many as the first of the “masters of tenor”, the “father of the tenor saxophonists”.

CHRISTMAS IN THE VALLEY
This recording was made in July 1957 in New York, with an important saxophone feature by “Hawk”. The sax-section of Don Redman‘s All-Stars featured: 

– Alto: George Dorsey, Milt Yaner
– Tenor: Al Cohn, Coleman Hawkins, Seldon Powell
– Baritone: Danny Bank

Saxophonist: SIDNEY BECHET

Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was an American Jazz (sopraan) saxophonist, clarinetist en composer.

SILENT NIGHT
This song was recorded on the 10th or 12th of December 1958 and released on the EP “Joue Noël“. Sidney Bechet is accompanied by Jean-Claude Pelletier (organ), Claude Gousset (trombone), Alix Bret (double bass) and Kansas Fields (drums).

Saxophonist: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY

Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley (September 13th, 1928, Tampa, Florida – Augustus 8th, 1975, Gary, Indiana) was an American saxophonist. In the 1950s en 1960s he was a trendsetting hardbop-musician and participated at the #1 Jazz album of all time Kind of Blue (1959) by Miles Davis (featuring John Coltrane as well).

BLUES FOR CHRISTMAS (John Benson Brooks)
This recording was made in 1958 and is the 8th track of the album “Alabama Concerto” of Jazz pianist en composer John Benson Brooks. Besides Cannonball on sax and Brooks on the piano the album features Art Farmer (trumpet), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Milt Hinton (double bass) and ??? (drums).

WHAT CHILD IS THIS? (1961)

In this live version (recorded in the Village Vanguard in 1961) Coltrane is accompanied by McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison at double bass and Elvin Jones at the drums.

Saxophonist: JOHN COLTRANE

John Coltrane (September 23th, 1926 – July 17th, 1967) was an American Jazz saxophonist and composer. He is seen as one of the most important and influencing innovators in Jazz.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
What Child Is This?” is a Christmas song, with lyrics written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. When Dix became seriously ill he wrote various hymns, the lyrics of this song among them. This hymn was sang over the melody of “Greensleeves” (a traditional English folk song).

Saxophonist: PAUL DESMOND

Paul Desmond (November 25th, 1924 – May 30th, 1977) was an American Jazz saxophonist and composor. He is most known from his participation in the Dave Brubeck Quartet and wrote the biggest Jazz hit of quartet: “Take Five“.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN
This version of this song was recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1962. The line-up: Paul Desmond (alto sax), Dave Brubeck (piano), Eugene Wright (double bass) and Joe Morello (drums).

Saxophonist: BOOKER ERVIN

Booker Telleferro Ervin II (October 31, 1930 – July 31, 1970) was an American tenor saxophonist, mostly known from working with Charles Mingus.

WHITE CHRISTMAS
This song from the album “”Structurally Sound” was recorded in December 1966, Parker was accompanied by Charles Tolliver (trumpet), John Hicks (piano), Red Mitchell (double bass) and Lenny McBrowne (drums).

Saxophonist: DAVID SANBORN

David Sanborn (born on the 30th of July 1945) is an American saxophonist mostly associated with Jazzrock, fusion and crossovermusic, has played with many great artists from the Jazz and pop music scenes..

This track was released on the album “As We Speak” from 1982.

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN (1988)

Saxophonist: ERIC MARIENTHAL

Eric Marienthal (born on the 13th of December 1957) is a saxophonist from the American Jazz-fusion, Smooth Jazz, and pop scenes.

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN (Traditional)
The other members of the Chick Corea Electric Band are besides obviously Chick Corea (piano) Eric Marienthal (sax), Dave Weckl (drums),  John Patitucci (bassguitar) and Frank Gambale (guitar).

I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (1993)

Saxophonist: JAY BECKENSTEIN

Spyro Gyra is an American fusionband from Buffalo (New York). The group was formed mid 70s by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein (born May 14th, 1951, in New York).

Besides Beckstein’s arrangement of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (Kim GannonWalter KentBuck Ram) Spyro Gyra also record a complete Christmas record “A Night Before Christmas” (youtube) with many Christmas classics.

Saxophonist: TOM SCOTT

Thomas Wright “Tom” Scott (born may 19th, 1948) is an American Jazzrock/Fusion saxophonist and composer.

FELIZ NAVIDAD (Jose Feliciano)
Tom Scott was accompanied for this recording by Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar) Tom McMorran (piano), Neil Stubenhaus (bassguitaar) and Johnny Friday (Drums, Timbales).

Saxophonist: GEORGE HOWARD

George Howard (September 15, 1956 – March 22, 1998) was an American Jazz-Funk/Fusion/Smooth Jazz soprano saxophonist.

THE FIRST NOEL (Traditional)
George Howord was accompanied by Kevin Chokan (guitar), Darryl Smith (keys), Rayford Griffin (drums), Dwayne Smith (bassguitar) and Munyungo Jackson (percussion).

Saxophonist: GERRY MULLIGAN

Gerald Joseph ‘Gerry’ Mulligan (6 April 1927 – 20 January 1996) was an American Jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and arranger. He was one of the leading baritone saxophonists in Jazz, specially during the cool jazz period.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN
This duo version of this song was recorded on the 29th of June 1994 at Carriage House Studio (Stamford, Connecticut), Mulligan is accompanied on piano by Dave Brubeck.

THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ (1995)

Saxophonist: MICHAEL BRECKER

Michael Brecker (March 29th, 1949 – January 13th, 2007) was an American Jazz saxophonist and composer. He won 15 Grammy’s, in musician and composer categories.

The Christmas Waltz was recorded in 1995 by the Brecker Brothers for the Blue Note album “Jazz to the World“. Michael Brecker is for this recording accompanied by brother Randy (trumpet), Steve Kahn (guitar) and others.

WE THREE KINGS (1996)

Saxophonist: BOB BERG

Robert Berg (April 7th, 1951 – December 5th, 2002) was an American Jazz and fusion saxophonist.

This song was released in 1996 on the Blue Note album “World Christmas“. Bob Berg is accompanied by Zakir Hussain (tabla player), Jim Beard (keyboards) and Arto Tunçboyacıyan (vocalist en percussionist).

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN (1996)

Saxophonist: JOSHUA REDMAN

Joshua Redman (born on the 1st of February 1969) is an American Jazz saxophonist.

This song was released in 1996 on the Blue Note album “World Christmas“. Redman playes here together with Marcus Miller (bassguitar, keys, arrangement), Lalah Hathaway (vocals) en Poogie Bell (drums).

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (1996)

Saxophonist: BONEY JAMES

Boney James, (James Oppenheim born September 1st, 1961) is an American saxophonist, songwriter, and record producer.

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (Lee MendelsonVince Guaraldi)
This is the 3rd track of the album “Boney’s Funky Christmas“, released in 1996 containing 9 Ch. Voor dit nummer Christmas classics. On the album he is accompanied by David Torkanowsky (keys), Paul Brown (drum programming), Alex Al (bass) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion).

Saxophonist: GROVER WASHINGTON JR.

Grover Washington (12 December 1943, Buffalo, New York – 17 December 1999, New York City) was an American Jazz-fusion, funk/soul en “Smooth Jazz” saxophonist.

THE LOVE IN HIS INFANT EYES (Donald Robinson / Grover Washington, Jr.)
Washington is accompanied on this track by Donald Robinson (piano), Adam Holzman (synthesizer), Gerald Veasley (bassguitar),
Steve Wolf (drums) and Pablo Batista (percussion). Besides this author piece there are various Christmas covers as well at his album “Breath Of Heaven ( A Holiday Collection)“.

HARK! THE HERALDS ANGELS SING (2001)

Saxophonist: DAVE KOZ

David S. “Dave” Koz (born 27th of March 1963) is an American Smooth Jazz saxophonist.

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING
This track was recorded in 2001 for the album “A Smooth Jazz Christmas” and features o.a. Peter White (guitar), David Benoit (piano), Rick Braun (trumpet) & Brenda Russell (vocals).

Saxophonist: BOB MINTZER

Bob Mintzer (Born on the 27th of January 1953) is an American Jazz & Fusion saxophonist who worked with many great artists from the Jazz en Jazz-Fusion scene and is most know from his band Yellowjackets.

DECK THE HALLS (Traditional)
Bob Mintzer is on this track accompanied by Russell Ferrante (piano), Jimmy Haslip (bass) and Marcus Baylor (Drums). This track was released on the album “Peace Round: A Christmas Celebration” from 2003.

Saxophonist: GERALD ALBRIGHT

Gerald Albright (Augustus 30th, 1957) is an American Jazz saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. On his own productions he often plays bassguitar, keyboards, flute as well, does drum programming and sings backing vocals.

O TANNENBAUM (Traditional)
Released in 2005, Albright is accompanied by Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Alex Al (bassguitar), David Benoit (keys), Tony Maiden (guitar) and Luis Conte (percussion).

Saxophonist: CANDY DULFER

Last but not least, a live recording of Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer.

She plays “MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY” together with Dutch vocalist Trijntje Oosterhuis and her band.


MORE CHRISTMAS SAXOPHONE: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song“.