The Voices Of Jimmy Joyce, 16 Voice A Cappella Choir
Vocal Arrangements by Brinley Bethel and Jimmy Joyce
Engineer, Lowell Frank
Produced by Anne S. Burt and James Conkling
Released on Warner Brothers Records - 1963
Digital Engineering and Mastering by Nick D'Amico - 1995
The complete collection of Christmas Carols by Alfred S. Burt, originally recorded in Hollywood in September of 1963 and digitally remastered in 1995 by Nick D'Amico. These performances by The Voices of Jimmy Joyce capture the spellbinding Brin Bethel octet arrangements of all 15 Burt carols, including "Caroling, Caroling", "Some Children See Him", "This is Christmas", and "The Star Carol".
This is the first recording to contain the true 4 part harmony as originally written on the family cards. Alfred Burt was a jazz musician and was always quick to admit he would never play a piece the same way twice. So, when he would sit at his grand piano and play the carols for friends and family, you would always hear something new. In 1953, Al conducted on the demo that won him the original contract with Columbia Records. The original Columbia recording also differed from the original 4 part harmonies written on the family cards. So, Al was always inventing new ways to play everything. But over the years, people have remembered the 1954 Columbia release as their first exposure to the carols and still find that recording to be their lasting favorite. Baby Boomers and their parents had the 1954 recording as their only reference point to Alfred Burt's ingenious harmonies. Some misguided listeners defend the original recording as the only true example of the music as it was intended. This of course is a myth. There are very early recordings in the Burt family archives which have Al playing chords to some of his carols only few people have ever heard. So, if you want the original music, please look at the Christmas cards from 1942 to 1954 and listen to the last verse of each of the arrangements on this recording of all 15 carols.
Original 1963 liner notes:
In playing these carols, you are becoming part of a legend, the living legend of Alfred S. Burt. The slender minister's son, the young jazz trumpeter who composed Christmas carols, the songs that have lived and grown to a new vitality after his untimely death at the age of 33 - all these are part of the legend of Alfred S. Burt.
With each Christmas, the carols reach a wider and more attentive audience. Their growth has been a natural one, nurtured by friends of the Burts, but growing, mainly on the evergreen strength of the words and music themselves. These works are the only carols created in modern times to obtain international acceptance among choirs, choral groups, community as well as civic organizations and television personalities.
They have been performed and recorded by many renown artists, including Andy Williams, Peggy Lee, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Nat "King" Cole, Johnny Mathis, Manhattan Transfer, The Sinatra Family, Julie Andrews with the London Symphony, Natalie Cole, The Lennon Sisters, The Hi-Lo's, The King Family, Dino, First Call, The Singers Unlimited, James Taylor, Maureen McGovern, Al Jarreau, The Caroling Company, Lex DeAzevedo and The Millennium Choir, Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians, Kenny Loggins, Simon & Garfunkel.... and many others! You can find instrumental versions by George
Winston, Dave Grusin, Ralph Carmichael, Mannheim Steamroller, Wynton Marsalis and John Williams. The Boston Pops Orchestra and Chorus features them each Christmas; Mr. Williams refers to the carols as "mini-masterpieces".
On February 7, 1954, Alfred Burt lost his battle with lung cancer. In that year, Columbia Records made the first recording of the Burt Carols, The Christmas Mood, still available on CD and now on digital downloads. The tradition was started in 1926 by Al's father, the Rev. Bates G. Burt, who began sending his own composed carols as Christmas messages to his friends and congregation. He proudly saw his son take over the music in 1942, while he supplied the lyrics. Upon the death of Bates G. Burt, Anne and Al asked Wihla Hutson, a family friend and the organist at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pontiac, Michigan (their home town), to put their ideas for the carols into poetry.
As Al moved through his youth - the war years, marriage to Anne Shortt, the birth of his daughter, Diane, his association with the Alvino Rey Orchestra as arranger and trumpeter, he kept his quiet faith implicit in his life and in the writing of these carols each year.
Christmas meant a great deal to the Burt family, not only as a church festival, but also as a time for family gathering. This holiday mood is captured in many of the carols. Wherever the Burts were in their travels, Miss Hutson received the ideas and wrote the lyrics. A short time after their arrival, Al would compose the music. The task was then Anne Burt's to edit the words, select the artwork, have the cards printed and address them to the Burt's Christmas list, which grew from 50 to 450.
Mrs. Burt wrote "Al was a family man. Christmas meant the joys of traditional celebration, both secular and sacred. We kept this occasion in all its meaning that final year with our daughter, Diane. Disease did little to lessen its luster for Al Burt loved living. The musical horn he fashioned to his wheelchair, when his voice left him, showed the way for those around us. Our days were bright, not gloomy. How happy he would be to know the joy and inspiration his music has brought to so many people all over the world."
"The arrangements by Brinley Bethel and Jimmy Joyce include Al's original composition in the third verse of each carol, the exact setting in the Christmas card. This recording is a tribute to the three men who worked together in the Alvino Rey Orchestra and are no longer living." Since their introduction inm 1954, from our personal Christmas cards to publication, it has been the interest of the fans that has kept the carols alive.
For more information about the Alfred Burt Christmas Carols, please visit the official website: