Andy Firth Christmas Collection: Christmas Time is Here

by Andy Firth with Julie Wilson, Francine Bell, Chris Ferguson & Mitch Capone

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I've always wanted to record a Christmas album but I just couldn't bring myself to the point of doing yet "another Christmas carols" recording. The only way I could see of being happy with the stories and various view points of the Christmas story was to write my own songs. Although I've composed 650 works from educational songs to full symphonic works, I'd never written any lyrics so this challenge was a very exciting voyage of self-discovery for me. So over a period of two weeks I sat down and wrote the 14 original songs on this album for my dear vocalist friends here my home of Newcastle NSW Australia. I wanted to write songs that would suit all of the vocalist's styles represented on this album.

Julie Wilson's sweet and "Doris Day" vocal qualities are such a joy to hear. I first heard Julie soon after coming to Newcastle in 2003 at the Newcastle Jazz Festival and remember thinking how wonderful her voice is. Shortly thereafter, Julie’s husband Mark approached me and asked me to score some big band charts for Julie’s son’s “Bad Blood” CD and also if I would play on Julie’s new CD “Colours”. All of which I was only too happy to do of course. The songs on this album that I wrote for Julie are purposely set in that romantic, snow covered, fireside image of Christmas in colder climes than here in Australia where our December Christmas can climb in the high 30’s (Celsius!) and Julie presents these songs with a touch of her own impeccable timing and panache. I had to put Glenn Miller styled reeds on “Christmas Time is Here” as it just screamed out for it and it is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Chris Ferguson is an amazing talent and one that I may never had known about except for a chance meeting at our local swimming pool. Chris apparently knew who I was but was too shy to introduce himself to me so when I initiated the "G'day mate" one morning we quickly got to the point of arranging for me to hear him sing. Chris has a wonderful voice and has the ability to instantly change from musical theatre to crooners of the 1940-50's to a passable Elvis (on Hawaiian Christmas). My dear friend and superb vocalist Johnny Cole wrote the words for "Christmas is a 'phone call away" back in Adelaide in the mid 1990's when I lived there and Chris does a wonderful sound-a-like of Johnny's country-styled version too. I was so impressed with Chris's potential that I wrote a variety of songs in different styles for him in an effort to let people hear his potential. Chris does not sing as a career and this such a waste of a great instrument so hopefully this album will be the first of many for this young musician.

The irrepressible Francine Bell and I go way back to the 1980's when we worked together in Sydney at the Don Burrow's Supper club and with legendary Aussie jazz band, "Galapagos Duck". Francine is a superb vocalist and songwriter and she is always a joy to be around. She is always filled with the Holly spirit and her joy of life is infectious! I wrote "Light up my life" for her because it's exactly how her friends see her and I’m sure what she asks to be able to do for people. "Oh Child of Light" was written with Francine in mind too but was going to be trashed because I didn't think that it was worthy of her. It was send to her by accident when I sent out “Light up my life”. Francine apparently wept when she read the lyrics and heard the tune and so I dedicated it to her. She brought this song to life and I now love it too.

Mitch Capone is an up and coming Aussie rock a billy legend in the making I think. His album "Bad Blood" is unique and a wonderfully inventive original take on this genre. Mitch and I had a great time recording his two songs on this album and I look forward to recording with him further.
So once the vocals were all recorded, I scored some sax team charts, woodwind quartet and clarinet solos to the backings I recorded earlier and then mixed the album. The whole production was done in my Accessible Music Publishing studio on Pro Tools using a Mac computer and various music samples and the various live real instruments I played for the production. I sincerely you feel the joy and fun that we all had making this recording. It was certainly a wonderful Christmas present for me to hear my songs sung by such wonderfully talented musicians.


With much thanks, Andy Firth (2.12.14)


released 02 July 2014

ANDY FIRTH-All songs (except Silent Night, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear). Johnny Cole wrote the lyrics to "Christmas is a 'phone call away".
ANDY FIRTH-All saxes, clarinet, arrangements, keyboards, sequencing, recording, editing, mixing and post production.
VOCALISTS: Francine Bell, Julie Wilson, Chris Ferguson & Mitch Capone.
Recorded and produced at Accessible Music Publishing.



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Andy Firth-Australian Clarinet & Saxophone Virtuoso NSW, Australia

Andy Firth is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding jazz clarinet players in the world today.In 2008 Andy appeared at Carnegie Hall with US legend, Buddy DeFranco as his guest artist. Andy has over 500 compositions to his name & he is the Australian artist for Buffet Crampon clarinets, Rico Reeds, Julius Keilwerth saxophones and Lomax Classic Mouthpieces. ... more

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