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Each year around this time, I arrange a Christmas carol. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I found myself in the spirit to arrange something for this year.

As I did last year, I asked my friend Richie Beirach if he would be so kind as to create for me a reharmonization of a carol. I told him the song and his response was something like, “NO, not that one!” 

Now, I figured that a simple melody over a basic form would make for a doable reharmonization. And since the song was originally a German song called “O Tannenbaum” (Richie lives in Germany), I thought it was perfect.

After some discussion, I ended up twisting his arm and he acquiesced. A week later he sent me the lead sheet.

The tune is, of course, “O  Christmas Tree”. I think of it fondly as a piece of music in the classic animated holiday film, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

It’s always challenging as well as a learning experience to orchestrate Richie’s complex harmonies. I made it work for a 5-trombone choir and a few other orchestral instruments. For those of you following along, notice the continuously descending chord roots. That’s cool.

I ended up recording only one time through the form due to time constraints, but I think it works as a short self-contained piece.

With that said, I wish you and your’s the happiest of holidays!!

Experience the fun and speed of
improving your jazz improvisation!

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Michael Lake

Trombonist, author, marketer, & tech guy

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