“Hurray For Christmas” is an absolute gem of a holiday song, composed by Oscar-, Grammy-, and Tony-winning Don Sebesky. Don is widely regarded as one of the greatest arrangers ever. His credits are extensive, as is his body of work across so many musical styles.
Sebesky was gracious enough to allow Steve DeDoes to not only include this song as part of the “Michigan Christmas Air” project – he allowed Steve to pen some additional lyrics for this recording. According to DeDoes, “Hurray” was “a must-do part” (of MCA), and he appreciates the artistic license that Sebesky gave him to tailor the recording to have a special place in the overall product.
“We wanted to do it as a jazz waltz,” remembers DeDoes. “‘Hurray For Christmas’ is really an intricate and challenging tune, and yet still resonates with delightful appeal. I had asked a prominent singer (name withheld) to sing the lead, but she didn’t work hard to learn the melody. It wasn’t going to work.”
Enter April Tini, herself an established pro with a versatile and energetic voice that would bring “Hurray” to life. “No one could have sung this better than April did,” says DeDoes. “She absolutely nailed it; not only in the challenges of the song itself, but in her incredible ‘scat’ improvisation.”
Along with Jake Reichbart‘s wonderful acoustic guitar solo, DeDoes achieved what he was after in the production. “I wanted the sophistication of the song, the arrangement, and all the pieces to come together,” he recalls, “but for the overall vibe of the piece to reflect the pure, simple joy that comes from Christmas – like it does with kids. In fact, I remember telling Jake during his session that I wanted the guitar solo to be as if he opened a new instrument on Christmas morning.”
The fluid background voices of the Bricktown Quartet were the final piece to the puzzle. “The overall sound of the vocal ensemble blends with April’s voice – but also achieves its own distinctive texture,” says the producer.
“After all these years, I continue to revel in the work that these artists did for me,” DeDoes adds. “And, I’m always thrilled with people’s reaction to this recording. The song itself (by Sebesky) deserves to be heard, and we all are extremely proud that our version introduces so many listeners to a carol they didn’t know existed.”
(Click Here to hear “Hurray For Christmas” – opens new window)
Composed by Don Sebesky / additional lyrics & arrangement by Steve DeDoes.
featuring April Tini (lead vocal), the Bricktown Quartet (backup vocals), and Jake Reichbart (guitar) – from the award-winning CD “Michigan Christmas Air,” in a jazzy DeDoes arrangement of a great song by Grammy & Tony winner Don Sebesky.
Available here by permission. Click here to read reviews and commentary about the “Michigan Christmas Air” CD.