Jelani Eddington | Sleigh Ride: A Leroy Anderson Centennial Celebration, Vol. 2

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Sleigh Ride: A Leroy Anderson Centennial Celebration, Vol. 2

by Jelani Eddington

This album features easy-listening pops-style light orchestral music composed by Leroy Anderson and performed on the world's largest theatre pipe organ.
Genre: Easy Listening: Instrumental Pop
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  song title
1. Sleigh Ride
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2:44 album only
2. Belle Of The Ball
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2:53 album only
3. Summer Skies
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3:01 album only
4. Bugler's Holiday
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2:47 album only
5. Jazz Pizzicato
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1:58 album only
6. Jazz Legato
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1:42 album only
7. Scottish Suite: The Bluebells Of Scotland
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2:08 album only
8. Scottish Suite: Turn Ye To Me
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2:55 album only
9. Home Stretch
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3:05 album only
10. The Girl In Satin
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2:10 album only
11. Horse And Buggy
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3:30 album only
12. China Doll
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2:48 album only
13. Promenade
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2:46 album only
14. Forgotten Dreams
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2:41 album only
15. Fiddle-Faddle
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3:33 album only
16. The Song Of The Bells
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3:15 album only
17. The Sandpaper Ballet
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3:27 album only
18. Saraband
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3:22 album only
19. Plink, Plank, Plunk!
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2:29 album only
20. Baladette
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21. Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry (World Premiere Recording
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3:31 album only
22. Piano Concerto In C: I. Allegro Moderato
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23. Piano Concerto In C: II. Andante
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24. Piano Concerto In C: III. Allegro Vivo
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Album Notes

Leroy Anderson has been described as one the most significant American composers of 20th century instrumental music—alongside the likes of George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and Aaron Copeland. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with American music knows the work of Leroy Anderson. Through enduring favorites such as Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, and The Syncopated Clock, as well as a treasure trove of other timeless classics, Anderson’s music has become the gold standard of American light orchestral music. In addition to his uncanny compositional abilities, Leroy Anderson also proved himself countless times as a masterful arranger and orchestrator.

Leroy Anderson’s music has always been popular with musicians worldwide, and theatre organists have often remarked how well his compositions adapt to the theatre pipe organ. This is perhaps due in part to the fact that Leroy Anderson was himself an organist, serving for many years as organist and choirmaster of the East Congregational Church in Milton, Massachusetts. Despite the popularity of Anderson’s music among organists, however, there has never before been an extensive anthology of his works performed on the organ.

The purpose of this project, therefore, has always been a straightforward one—to recreate as faithfully as possible the intricacy of Leroy Anderson’s works as the composer himself arranged and orchestrated them. The project is even more à propos, given the composer’s centennial in 2008.

Recreating Leroy Anderson’s orchestrations on a single instrument without the benefit of a full orchestra is a task one approaches with trepidation. Nevertheless, the Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ featured on this album more than lives up to the task. After all, theatre pipe organs were developed in the 1910s and 1920s as so-called “unit orchestras” to replicate the sounds of the orchestra. Through the instruments’ many orchestral voices (such as strings, reeds, flutes) as well as various tuned percussion instruments (including the marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, and celesta), traps (such as the snare drum, wood block, triangle, tap cymbal), and other miscellaneous sound effects (slide whistle, acme siren, etc.), the theatre pipe organ stands in the unique position of being the only self-contained acoustic musical instrument capable of faithfully recreating orchestral music.

With very few exceptions, as noted throughout in these notes, the arrangements on this recording are performed by a single musician—organist Jelani Eddington—in real time, and with no overdubbing. In certain works, orchestral percussion effects (such as temple blocks, whip crack, sandpaper blocks, cow bell, snare drum, etc.) were played by percussionists live with the organ. These effects were added in arrangements in which omission of the effects would unduly compromise Leroy Anderson’s intended orchestrations.

In Forgotten Dreams (volume 2, track 14) and the Piano Concerto in C (volume 2, tracks 22-24), the orchestral parts and the solo piano parts are performed by Jelani Eddington. This self-accompaniment is possible because the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer has a computerized relay that is capable of recording the organ as it is being played live, and then playing back through the organ as though the instrument were actually being played by an organist. It thereby became possible for Jelani to record the orchestral parts on the organ, play it back through the organ’s relay, and then play the piano parts live.

Additionally, of particular note is the world-premiere recording of two newly-discovered Leroy Anderson compositions: Easter Song (volume 1, track 28) and the Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry (volume 2, track 21). These works have never before been performed or recorded and were composed specifically for the organ.


Leroy Anderson was born on June 29, 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts the son of Swedish immigrants. He attended Harvard University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. While at Harvard, he conducted and composed for the Harvard University Band. Ultimately, his compositions grabbed the attention of Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, who asked Anderson to compose original compositions for the Pops. This collaboration proved extremely fruitful for many years.

In addition to his musical endeavors, Leroy Anderson also studied German and Scandinavian languages at Harvard. Anderson ultimately proved to be quite the linguist, achieving fluency in German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic, with some proficiency in French and Italian.

The Anderson-Fiedler collaboration began in 1938, and the composer’s first works for the Pops, Jazz Pizzicato and Jazz Legato, proved to be instant successes. In 1942 however, the United States went to war, and Leroy Anderson was drafted and sent to Europe where he served primarily as translator and censor. Towards the end of his service, he began to find time to compose again. One of the pieces he composed was The Syncopated Clock, which turned out to be one of his most enduring works.

Following the war, Leroy Anderson became highly productive, and his compositions became ever more popular. By the end of the 1940s, Anderson had already written some of his biggest hits, including The Syncopated Clock, Fiddle-Faddle, Serenata, Sleigh Ride, and A Trumpeter’s Lullaby.

Beginning in the early 1950s, Leroy Anderson began turning out new compositions at a dizzying rate. At about the same time, the composer teamed up with lyricist Mitchell Parish, who had already made a name for himself for being able to “retrofit” lyrics to existing instrumental compositions. Ultimately, Parish supplied lyrics to The Syncopated Clock, Serenata, Sleigh Ride, The Waltzing Cat, Blue Tango, Belle Of The Ball, and Forgotten Dreams. The global success of these compositions – particularly Sleigh Ride – has surely been due in part to Parish’s lyrics.

Leroy Anderson also completed two very ambitious projects: composing the score to the Broadway musical, Goldilocks (volume 1, tracks 7-13), and completing his Piano Concerto In C (volume 2, tracks 22-24). By the 1960s, however, the pace of the composer’s output had slowed somewhat. Nevertheless, Anderson kept busy guest-conducting various orchestras throughout the United States and Canada.

In May 1972, the Boston Pops paid tribute to Leroy Anderson’s career with a special concert dedicated to the composer’s life and music. Three years later, at the age of 66, Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury, Connecticut home. Today, Leroy Anderson’s legacy lives on strongly both from continued live performances of his works and through recordings. In 1988, the composer was elected to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, and in 2003 the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts dedicated a “Leroy Anderson Square” on Chatham Street—across from the house in which the composer grew up.

In short, Leroy Anderson has created a legacy that will continue for generations. This album is dedicated to celebrating that legacy.


During the years that Jelani Eddington has given concerts, he has established himself as one of the most prominent and sought-after artists on the concert circuit. Jelani has performed in most of the major theatre organ concert venues throughout the Untied States, has toured extensively abroad, and has received numerous awards and recognitions, including his selection as the 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year.

Jelani was born in Muncie, Indiana to Louise Eddington and the late Robert Eddington and grew up in a very musical family. Between the interests of his mother, a professional music teacher of many years, and those of his grandmother, Florence Arnold, a well-respected piano instructor, it was no surprise when Jelani demonstrated an inclination toward music at a very early age.

Shortly after beginning piano instruction at the age of four, Jelani began studying classical piano under the direction of his grandmother. At the age of eight, a trip to hear the 4-manual 42-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ installed in the Indianapolis, Indiana restaurant, the Paramount Music Palace, introduced Jelani to the sounds of the theatre pipe organ. Soon thereafter, he began to pursue classical organ lessons and ultimately began studying theatre organ with John Ferguson, whose skills as a theatre organ instructor have been highly acclaimed internationally.

In the spring of 1988 at the age of 13, Jelani won the American Theatre Organ Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition, prevailing over competitors worldwide ages 13-21. Since that time, Jelani has been featured at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society, and has toured extensively throughout the world.

In August 2001, the American Theatre Organ Society honored Jelani’s extensive career as a concert and recording organist by naming him the 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year. Having received the award at the age of 27, Jelani remains the youngest-ever recipient of this prestigious honor.


Leroy Anderson was a masterful orchestrator. As such, faithful recreation of his orchestrations on a theatre pipe organ requires an instrument capable of performing orchestral music with the highest degree of subtlety. The 5-manual, 80-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ featured on this recording was the natural choice of instrument, as it has been tonally engineered to provide the widest and most sophisticated array of orchestral color that any pipe organ could ever hope to achieve. The late organ builder David Junchen set about to create an instrument that would be acknowledged as the last word in theatre pipe organs. He succeeded.

The Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ heard on this album began its life many years ago.
The owners of the instrument, Jasper and Marian Sanfilippo fell in love with the sounds of the theatre pipe organ in the mid-1980s and decided to install a pipe organ in their home in Barrington, Illinois. That first instrument was a 4-manual, 14-rank Wurlitzer (Opus 1571), originally installed in the Riviera Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. David Junchen enlarged the organ to 28 ranks and installed it in the Sanfilippo’s first music room (which was a long, narrow room with a length of 76 feet and width of 24 feet).

In 1987, Jasper and David began to discuss plans to construct a much larger music room to house an much larger instrument. Ultimately, a new music salon was constructed, the final dimensions of which measure 100 feet long (with an additional 20 feet of length for the organ chambers), 64 feet wide, and 42 feet high. The pipe organ also grew from 28 to 80 ranks of pipework carefully selected from across the country. The organ’s 5,000+ pipes speak from five chambers in the front of the music room (Main, Foundation, Solo, Orchestral, and Percussion), and from an Ethereal Chamber in the back of the room.

All in all, Junchen’s vision for the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer was to create a pipe organ capable of performing an unprecedented array of musical styles. This was the precise type of instrument needed to recreate music as orchestrally rich and complex as that composed by Leroy Anderson.


1. Sleigh Ride (February 10, 1948) (Sleigh Bells & Whip Crack: Eric Derr, Temple Blocks: Jeffrey DeRoche; Trumpet (horse whinney): Gabriel DiMartino)

The second volume of this centennial celebration begins with Sleigh Ride – the most frequently performed and recorded work by Leroy Anderson. Ironically, the idea for this wintertime classic occurred to the composer during a heat wave in the summer of 1946. From the very first performance of this work by Arthur Fiedler with the Boston Pops in 1948, this composition became a smashing success. With the addition of lyrics by Mitchell Parish in 1950, this “ring-ting-tingeling” tune became a global success that has been performed and recorded by a wide array of groups and soloists, from the New York Philharmonic and Ella Fitzgerald, to Captain Kangaroo and Alvin & The Chipmunks.

2. Belle Of The Ball (May 12, 1951)

Belle Of The Ball is another example of Anderson’s unique ability to take a traditional musical form – in this instance a Strauss-like Viennese waltz – and adapt it to a contemporary, particularly American style. In 1953, Mitchell Parish added a new dimension to the composition by supplying lyrics to Anderson’s waltz.

3. Summer Skies (September 1953)

Listening to the haunting melody of Summer Skies, it is easy to imagine the fading colors of a late summer sunset. The composition demonstrates Anderson’s ability to paint a vivid, colorful picture through music and orchestration.

4. Bugler’s Holiday (May 26, 1954)

This virtuoso composition is not for the faint-hearted trumpeter. After composing the lyrical A Trumpeter’s Lullaby in 1949, Anderson turned his attention to crafting a composition more in line with the traditional bravado of a trumpet. The resulting Bugler’s Holiday is a piece that demands a great deal of precision when performed by the brass section – of either a traditional orchestra or of a Wurlitzer “unit orchestra.”

5. Jazz Pizzicato (May 1938)

Jazz Pizzicato is the earliest Anderson composition represented on these commemorative recordings and the first in a long line of works written at the request of Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler. After hearing a college-song medley Anderson had composed for his alma mater Harvard University, Fiedler approached Anderson and asked for an original composition for the Boston Pops. Anderson agreed and began to develop ideas for a piece reminiscent of the well-known Pizzicato Polka—albeit with a few modernisms. The resulting Jazz Pizzicato was an instant success and launched a very fruitful collaboration between Anderson and Fiedler that would last for many years.

6. Jazz Legato (Summer 1938)

Following the success of Jazz Pizzicato, Arthur Fiedler wanted to record the composition on a 78-rpm record. However, in order to have enough material to complete a three-minute side of the record, Fiedler asked Anderson to compose a companion piece. Balancing out the “pizzicato” theme came the more lyrical Jazz Legato.

7-8. The Scottish Suite (June-July 1954)

Following in the tradition of his highly successful Irish Suite (volume 1, tracks 19-24), Leroy Anderson embarked on orchestrating another suite of traditional folk tunes—this time from Scotland. The suite initially comprised four movements: Turn Ye To Me (June 13, 1954), The Bluebells Of Scotland (June 25, 1954), Bonnie Dundee (July 25, 1954), and The Campbells Are Coming (June 1954), but the latter two were withdrawn by the composer. Two other movements (Scotland The Brave and Charlie Is My Darling) were initially planned but ultimately not completed.

7. The Bluebells Of Scotland (June 1954)

Bluebells are blue-violet bell-shaped flowers native to Scotland and often found in grassy slopes and rocky ridges. The presence of these flowers throughout the countryside inspired this well-known traditional folk song.

8. Turn Ye To Me (June 13, 1954)

Turn Ye To Me is an old Highland rowing tune and one of the most beloved Scottish folk songs. Anderson’s treatment of this piece for full orchestra is made even more beautiful through his subtle use of the strings.

9. Home Stretch (June 19, 1962)

Home Stretch is one of the orchestral vignettes Leroy Anderson composed during the early 1960s. This composition, which brings to mind horses racing in a final mad gallop to the finish line, not only harkens back to Anderson’s affinity for horses (used so effectively in Sleigh Ride and Horse And Buggy), but also incorporates the composer’s skill at switching unexpectedly between 2/4 and 3/4 time.

10. The Girl In Satin (August 27, 1953)

Leroy Anderson again delves into a tango for his delightful composition, The Girl In Satin. Although eclipsed in popularity by his earlier Blue Tango (which was at the top of the hit charts the previous year), this piece remains a well-known Anderson work.

11. Horse & Buggy (June 11, 1951) (Temple blocks: Jeffrey DeRoche, Whip crack: Eric Derr)

Horse And Buggy is a charming musical tone poem that recalls the days of the horse-drawn carriage. Once again musically suggesting the trotting pace of a horse through the use of temple blocks and the whip crack, the listener can easily visualize the horse alternating between a slow trot and a quick gallop.

12. China Doll (June 1951) (Temple blocks: Jeffrey DeRoche)

Leroy Anderson describes in this composition a delicate, turn-of-the-century doll. The composer’s flare for intricate and catchy rhythmic passages is evident here, particularly with the syncopation that is punctuated by the temple blocks and wood block.

13. Promenade (April 1945)

Leroy Anderson composed Promenade in Arlington, Virginia while he was in the Army stationed in Washington DC. With an almost militaristic steadiness, this composition comes to life through Anderson’s use of the colors in the brass section of the orchestra. The soaring and contrasting middle section gives way once again to a brisk reprise of the opening march-like theme.

14. Forgotten Dreams (May 28, 1954) (Piano: Jelani Eddington)

Most consider Forgotten Dreams to be among Leroy Anderson’s most beautiful compositions. Its simple, yet stirring melody line is profoundly moving. This work was first performed when it was recorded in June 1954 for Decca Records with Leroy Anderson himself playing the solo piano part.

15. Fiddle-Faddle (January 1, 1947)

Fiddle-Faddle is another blockbuster Leroy Anderson composition not for the faint-hearted performer. This composition exacts the greatest demands of the string players with a high-velocity “fiddling” pattern that starts in the introduction and continues throughout the last bars of the work. With a melody that rockets out of the opening bars at a daunting pace, the work is also of no small consequence for transcription on a keyboard instrument.

16. The Song Of The Bells (September 8, 1953)

Leroy Anderson had a knack for taking an instrument – or group of instruments – and composing an orchestral vignette to feature them. This skill is evident in compositions such as Clarinet Candy (volume 1, track 4), Bugler’s Holiday (volume 2, track 4), Fiddle-Faddle (volume 2, track 15), and (albeit not an “instrument” in the traditional sense) The Typewriter (volume 1, track 15). Anderson’s work, The Song Of The Bells features the percussion—most notably, and as the title suggests, the bells (chimes, glockenspiel, etc.). The Sanfilippo Wurlitzer has a vast array of bell effects at its disposal, and they are featured prominently in this arrangement.

17. The Sandpaper Ballet (June 25, 1954) (Sandpaper Blocks: Eric Derr)

The Sandpaper Ballet is a delightfully whimsical composition that uses sandpaper blocks to bring to life a vaudeville soft-shoe rhythm. As a further testament to Leroy Anderson’s compositional prowess, the composer wrote this work in only five days.

18. Saraband (January 4, 1948)

A saraband is a musical form prevalent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries featuring a 3-beat waltz-like rhythm with the primary accent falling on the second beat of the measure, rather than the first. Leroy Anderson’s composition builds upon the classical saraband format, but adds his own unique, typically “Andersonian” contemporary and jazzy flare.

19. Plink, Plank, Plunk! (June 12, 1951) (Violin squeak: Chris Gorsuch, Snap: Jelani Eddington)

Plink, Plank, Plunk! is another example of a pizzicato piece for strings. Unlike his earlier composition, Jazz Pizzicato, this work features a few special effects in the form of a squeak and a snap.

20. Baladette (April 9, 1962)

This haunting composition proves that a lush and complex melody can be built around a simple, six-note chromatic ostinato pattern. This theme appears as the introduction, and, although it drops back into the accompaniment throughout the majority of the piece, its steady unyielding presence brings the work to life.

21. Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry (June 13, 1946) (arr. Jelani Eddington)

It is a great honor to present on this album the first recording of Leroy Anderson’s Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry. Together with Easter Song (volume 1, track 28), this composition is one of the very rare pieces Anderson wrote specifically for the organ. The work is dated June 13, 1946 and bears the inscription “Hammond Organ.” The Hammond organ was, at the time this composition was written, the most prevalent electronic organ on the market which, in many respects, imitated the sounds of the theatre pipe organs. Accordingly, while the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ is a much more orchestrally and mechanically complex instrument than the Hammond organs of the day, this Wurlitzer is a perfect instrument to recreate faithfully Anderson’s march. The piece beings with an introduction that calls to mind the sounds of heavy industrial-age machinery, then breaks into a very stately march reminiscent of the style of English composer Eric Coates.

22-24. Piano Concerto In C Major For Piano And Orchestra (July 5, 1953) (Piano solo: Jelani Eddington, Claves & Snare drum: Eric Derr, Cow bell & Maracas: Jeffrey DeRoche)

Early in his composing career, Leroy Anderson decided to tackle more extended, ambitious works. One of those projects was his score to the Broadway musical Goldilocks (volume 1, tracks 7-13). In the early 1950s, the composer also began to sketch out ideas for a piano concerto. After intensely working on the concerto for several years, Anderson premiered the work at an outdoor concert in Chicago’s Grant Park in July 1953. The composer himself conducted the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and the soloist was pianist Eugene List. The reception to the work was cool, and in August 1954, the composer withdrew the concerto, intending to make some revisions to the first movement. Moreover, in a list of works Anderson himself complied in 1970, he omitted the concerto altogether. Following Anderson’s death in 1975, his wife, Eleanor, sent the concerto to Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel, who recorded the work in 1993. Since that time, there has been much renewed interest in the work. This album features the fourth known recording of the concerto.

22. Allegro Moderato

Leroy Anderson’s piano concerto is structured in a very traditional form. As such, the first movement introduces many of the themes that will predominate the work. The influence of composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and George Gershwin is evident throughout. Of particular note is Anderson’s command of counterpoint, which is demonstrated in a fugue passage in the center of this movement.

23. Andante

After the crashing climax of the first movement, a piano cadenza serves as segue into the lyrical passages of the second movement, written in E major. In typical Anderson style, however, a surprise awaits the listener. The surprise comes in the form of a Latin-American samba rhythm, accentuated by the claves and maracas.

24. Allegro Vivo

The third movement begins in somewhat unorthodox fashion, with an extended “question and answer” session between the piano and snare drum. The main theme of the third and final movement calls to mind another “typically American” orchestral composer – Aaron Copeland. The percussive main theme later gives way to a regal and soaring theme in F major, further brought to life by a beguine accompaniment. A passionate piano cadenza seamlessly flows into the final seconds of the work, bringing the concerto to a triumphant conclusion with a final reprise of the opening theme juxtaposed against a seemingly continuous downward cascade of octaves in the piano.


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