A couple of weeks back…
…while lamenting the dearth of good holiday releases this year, I mentioned Dale Corn’s Christmas at Our House (EP) as one of the exceptions to this season’s underwhelming holiday music rollout.
At just three tracks, we only receive a taste of holiday interpretations under the tree from young Mr. Corn, but it’s well worth snaring if your holiday palate leans toward swing’n, big band fare.
No stranger to the dance halls and jazz club club circuit along the mid Atlantic Seaboard, Dale conducts a very fine 17 piece big band that he also fronts with his dulcet, clarinet-resonant vocals … a voice different from the bromidic crooner style and one I find very agreeable.
Coming on the heels…
…of his ”chock full o standards”, big band debut album – I’ve Been Around — (2011), Dale’s Chirstmas At Our House EP release offers a very nice short stack of classic holiday tracks: “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Winter Wonderland” and “Silent Night” that are all nicely arranged and well produced.
The first two tracks are Bobby Muncy arrangements and offer interesting interpretations that are fresh and swing’n while remaining balanced and clean. Gene Thorne’s elegant piano and horn charts bring just the right amount of jazz shading to the typically staid “Silent Night”.
“Jingle Bell Rock” – Dale Corn*
Dale is offering everyone a gift this holiday season with a free download of “Jingle Bell Rock” (here).
An Interview with Dale…
I’m a sucker for big bands and really do like this new voice on the standards scene so I sought him out for a phone chat a few weeks back to get the low-down on his new holiday release.
Well had a great time talking about Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Nelson Riddle, the best arrangers classic and current … everything BUT his new holiday release! Geez … I will review DC’s debut album in the new year and include our exhaustive exchange in that Spring ’13 piece.
We did touch on touch on Chirstmas At Our House and holiday music a bit though … hey, if nothing else I had to find out if that gal in the album art was Dale’s girl!? So here’s the holiday slice of our conversation (with a sidebar on his live album recording plans)…
VocalStandards: There’s a grand tradition of holiday music and the Great American Songbook. Is that why you decided to do a holiday release … a holiday EP as it were?
Dale Corn: Yes, I felt like I was missing out. You hear everybody else do holiday music… I said, “I guess I’d better jump on.” I had always felt that it was too commercial, but then again, I thought, “Well, you know what? I think I’m missing out.”
VS: There’s certainly commercial aspects to exploiting the holiday and the music; but if you look at the great American songbook, you’ve got great artists doing great music down through the years. That stuff has become the core of the way a lot of people enjoy the holiday — the ambiance of the holiday, not necessarily the meaning of Christmas, as it were.
‘Christmas at Our House’ is only three tracks but the EP is really well done and the arrangements are jazzy and fun … Bobby [Muncy], he did some really interesting stuff with the charts on “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Winter Wonderland.” But, I’ve got to ask you, is that your wife in the photograph?
DC: [laughs] No, no, that is a model that we hired, a local model, actually, and her name’s Marla. She does wonderful “classic” pinup photos.
VS: She’s period perfect for that classic 50s, 60s … ‘Mad Men’ era Christmas look, she’s got the look. Artwork aside, I think you guys have done really well with this holiday EP release. Is there more holiday music to come?
DC: Down the road, a couple of years I would say, … it takes so much to save the money up, to do it right. It takes a lot of time for me, because I’m a working class American just like anybody else. I’m saving the money up to do another full standards album — regular standards — and then we’ll come back in a couple of years [with a holiday release]. Maybe in two years or so, come back and do a full Christmas album; take those three songs, and add maybe another eight or nine songs.
VS: That’s probably a smart play. Hey, you’ve got a lot of live performance videos up on YouTube; have you thought about a live album? Big bands and live albums are kind of a natural mix, from my perspective.
DC: I would! What I would like to do, my dream project for doing a live album, is to do one in D.C. at Blues Alley. Blues Alley is to Washington what The Blue Note is to New York. There’s a lot of great performers that have played there. I actually saw The Count Basie Orchestra perform there a couple of years ago. I have sung there twice when I was in another band, before I started my own group. My goal is to be able to follow in the footsteps of people like Tony Bennet or Eva Cassidy … Dizzy Gillespie, The Basie Band and be able to perform there … be able to literally walk down the alley and look up and see my name on the marquee. That would be the ideal place to do it, because even though it’s a small room and they only hold about 100 people in that room, maybe 110 at best, it’s intimate. I don’t know how intimate you can be with 17 musicians behind you [laughs], but that would be the ideal place.
The Conductor is pulling into the station…
Dale went on to say in our chat that he doesn’t get to perform in D.C. as much as he’d like.
However, that is not the case this Sunday and Monday (Christmas Eve) as Dale will be performing at Union Station (a great venue), with a six or eight piece subset of his band. If your shopping at Union Station or passing though on your way home for the holiday, stop by and give Dale Corn and his band a listen.
The really cool thing about the Union Station gig is that Dale actually works the rails as a train engineer (feature photo was a bit of foreshadowing) so this is a wonderful mashup of his two lives … very nice Dale!
[* Please remember that all songs streamed here are for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT intended as a substitute for properly purchased original record company product. Give a listen and then please support the artists via iTunes, Amazon or your favorite music store. Artists/Record Labels -- NO DOWNLOADS ARE SUPPORTED on this site; please contact me directly regarding the removal of any potentially infringing material.]