Tis the season to release new holiday recordings. Thankfully, singer/songwriter/trombonist Aubrey Logan found time to share her version of the Elvis Presley Christmas classic “Blue Christmas” this year. Her arrangement is a pop/gospel take that emphasizes the “blue,” but finishes with cathartic full-band swing. She’s also released a companion instrumental version that features her on her beloved trombone.
If you’re not familiar with Aubrey, she grew up in the Seattle area and attended Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. In 2009, she won awards at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and was a contestant on American Idol. She’s been featured on Postmodern Jukebox, a musical collective known for traditional jazz covers of modern pop songs. She recently moved to Austin from Los Angeles. Check out our interview with her from last summer to learn more about her career.
We caught up with Aubrey fresh off a two day marathon recording a new collection of standards with drummer Daniel Dufour and pianist/producer Sean Giddings. She was kind enough to give us a few minutes to talk Christmas music.
What do you love about Christmas music?
I love what my parents played. I love Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” And there was Tom Scott and the horn stuff, James Taylor at Christmas, and Mannheim Steamroller. So many of us have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music, because there’s so much of it. But it’s timeless. “Hark the Herald Angel Sings” has some of my favorite lyrics. And then there are many that I wish they just wouldn’t play anymore. But my favorite Christmas album is Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.
How did “Blue Christmas” come about?
I like to do a Christmas tour every year. And last time I considered doing “Blue Christmas,” but I already had too many ballads. Then I moved to Texas just as the pandemic was hitting. The song just felt right for 2020. Everyone’s had a really hard year, and it just didn’t seem right to come out singing “deck the halls” and all that.
I came up with a lead sheet and gave it to [producer] Sean Giddings and told him I wanted to do this pop/gospel version. He got the sheet and just took it to outer space. We changed the chords a bit, but I really wanted to strip the song down to the lyrics and find out what the song was really saying.
Was there a particular version of the song that inspired you?
Elvis inspired me. And the simplicity of the lyrics. I like to do the swagger as well, but when you strip a song down to the lyrics and a simple chord progression you find out what it’s really about.
Tell me about the instrumental version.
It’s the exact same arrangement. I usually do a ‘bone solo in just about everything, but with “Blue Christmas” I was just like, it’s done. I don’t want to add anything else. And an instrumental could work for radio. I’ve got some good friends in radio who play instrumental stuff. It made sense as a compliment to the vocal version.
You shot the videos at Parker’s Jazz Club in Austin. Is that Daniel Dufour on drums?
We wanted to shoot a video with a band and Kris [Kimura, proprietor of Parker’s] was kind enough to open the club up to us for the shoot. Yes, that’s Daniel, but he didn’t play on the recording. I really wanted a full band in the video and Daniel came in and did it with us. We’re going to have a livestream Christmas show at Parker’s and they’re actually letting us have a small audience. It will be nice to play in front of people.
Aubrey’s Christmas Party will be livestreamed from Parker’s Jazz Club in Austin on Thursday 17 December, with two shows at noon and at 8pm. Visit aubreylogan.com for more information. And read our review of Aubrey’s livestream with the Collin Shook Trio in July.