120315 Jerry Granelli, Ottawa, ON

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I figured that December 3rd, 2015 marked the third time I saw Jerry Granelli play his Christmas concert at the Dominion-Chalmers Church but after a tiny bit of digging (through my deep ticket books, not my shallow brain) indicates that this was only the second time I attended the show.  I do know he came a third time (at least) and I certainly did skip out on one of his performances, so maybe that led to my subtle confusion.  Regardless, I regret not going to the show I skipped, whether it would have been my third time or fourth.  Heck, if it would have been my fifth time or eleventh time or seventeenth time I wish I would have gone.

Crazy you say?  Nay, I reply.

Let me ask you this: how many times have you listened to the Charlie Brown Christmas album?  Once?  Twice?  Seventeen times?  And how many times have you enjoyed the record?  Allow me to answer for you: either none of those times or every one of those times.  Sure, I know there are a lot of Christmas music haters out there and I weep for you all with the same tenderness as a newborn sweet baby Jesus gurgling in his manger.  But if you are not among those saddened holiday-averse gingerbread earworm avoiders then your answer can only be: “I love that record every time I hear it.”  C’mon now, you know it to be true.  Sure, we can skip Schroeder playing his straight-up Für Elise and maybe even the gloriously cacaphonic untrained vocalizations on Mendelssohn’s Hark, The Herald Angels Sing but the rest is pure easy-jazzin’ gold.

And can you guess who played drums on (most of*) that iconic Vince Guaraldi album?  That’s right: Nova Scotia’s own Jerry Granelli.  Though recording the album only took three hours out of his life (and earned him $120 in 1965 money, which works out to a rather admirable $1,015 in today’s dollars) it has remained his calling card ever since, despite appearing on several Grammy-winning recordings and playing with the likes of Bill Frisell, Robben Ford, and Charlie Haden over the course of his busy and varied career.  And back in 2014 or so he decided to put on a handful of holiday shows celebrating his most popular achievement.

And oh, they were so great!  He had a piano player that nailed (and I mean nailed) Guaraldi’s parts and a good bass player too.  He brought along a local children’s choir to sing and whattya know, Granelli was still very much in fine form on the trap kit.  It was like listening to an enormously enhanced version of the iconic recording, one that only expanded my enjoyment of the amazing music (like that was even possible, but it was).  And what a great room too!  I’ve expounded time and again about what a gem of a venue the Domchalm is was and will be; a grand roughly octagonal space with a huge dome capping a glorious vaulted ceiling.  

I really can’t imagine why I didn’t go again the following year.  Maybe I was afraid that my enjoyment of the show would start to wane if I saw it enough times. But as I reach for my worn copy of the Charlie Brown Christmas album once again (and I’m writing this in July) it occurs to me that I needn’t have worried.

I hope Granelli tours it again!** 

*A different drummer plays on What Child is This.

**That last line hurts.  Just days after I wrote this story Jerry Granelli (1940-2021) passed away.  As if I wasn’t already disappointed enough about skipping that show.  When will I ever learn to stop not going to concerts?

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