|Away in a Manger||Deck the Halls||The First Noel|
|God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen||Good King Wenceslas||Here We Come A Wassailing|
|Lo How A Rose Ere Blooming / O Thou Joyful Day|
|O Come All Ye Faithful||Silent Night||What Child is This?|
A Swingin' Yule (1999)
CD plus Piano Music Book from Warner Brothers Publications
|Joy To the World||Ringing Singing Christmas|
(Carol of the Bells / Sing We Now of Christmas)
|Good Christian Men, Rejoice||Coventry Kings|
(We Three Kings / The Coventry Carol)
|The Holly and the Ivy||Angel Sounds|
(Hark, the Herald Angels Sing / Angels We Have Heard on High)
|It Came Upon a Midnight Clear||Jolly Jingle|
(Jolly Old St. Nicholas / Jingle Bells)
|O Holy Night||Silent Noel|
(Silent Night / The First Noel)
|(bonus song) We Wish You a Merry Christmas|
|Brahms’ Bedtime Bounce||(from Johannes Brahms’ Lullaby, op.49, #4 [1833-1897])|
|Ludwig’s Lunar Light Lindy||(from L. van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, op.27, #2 [1770-1827])|
|Chopin’s Sixty Second Swing||(from Frederic Chopin’s Minute Waltz, op 64, #1 [1810-1849])|
|Frank’s Hungry For Rapid Swing||(from Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody, #2 [1811-1886])|
|Wolfgang’s Late Night Music||(from W. A. Mozart’s A Little Night Music, K.525 [1756-1791])|
|Pachelbel Can Indeed||(from Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major [1653-1706])|
|Peter Can Share, Too||(from P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in Bb minor, op.23 [1840-1893])|
|Bach’s Toccata and Swingin’ Demeanor||(from J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV565 [1685-1750])|
|Anton’s New World Swing||(from A. Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Largo, op.95 [1841-1904])|
|Sergei’s Swing on Paganini||(from S. Rachmaninoff’s 18th Rapsodie & Variations on Theme by Paganini [1873-1943])|
|(bonus song) Amadeus’ Swingin’ Seize||(from W. A. Mozart’s Sonata #16 in C, K545 [1756-1791])|
The spirit of Christmas is in the hearts of children. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of "A Swingin' Yule" will be donated to the Children's Miracle Network, making miracles happen for Children every day.
The 20 cleverly imaginative settings in these collections have been adapted with extensive use of jazz harmonies and an uplifting swing feel. They are unpredictable and unconventional; some are playfully rhythmic, while others are peacefully serene. But because they are so unexpected, they are all just fun to play.
Whether a joyful syncopated frolic to lift your spirits, or an easy going reflection to help you unwind, these traditional favorites will fit into any evening performance, from the grand ball room to the living room, and are sure to enhance every Christmas celebration.
These swing revisions are to be played in a strict tempo, as any swing dance number should be. During performance, any jitter-bugging by the audience is permitted, while any dancing by the piano player is entirely optional.
He has played for or directed over a dozen church music groups, and over two dozen theatrical productions. His piano students have ranged in age from 5 to 75. He also toured Europe with a vocal and instrumental group in 1976. Since the 1980’s, he has made regular appearances on the television program, "Chalice Of Salvation".
He currently serves as the Diocesan Pianist in Springfield, Massachusetts, leading the music at several annual services. He continues to play at various other religious events, as well as wedding services and reception cocktail parties. During every December, he can be found directing the holiday merriment at several Christmas season celebrations. The two Yuletide collections -- "A Cool Yule" and "A Swingin' Yule" -- offer you the chance to share in that same musical enjoyment yourselves. Merry Christmas !!
In his latest collection, "If It Ain't Baroque, Just Swing It," Steve gets his chance to share a way of playing the great music of the great masters by making it swing. The famous classical standards -- melodies you probably already recognize, in a format you probably don't -- are all set with a upbeat flair, and can be heard with in the play along CD, with a complete drum track. Tap you feet to Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and more !!
The difference between skill and talent, as many students may have heard (or perhaps figured out), is that a skill is a learned ability, while a talent is a natural ability. Folks who can first sit down at the piano, and make their hands perform magic -- they have talent. However, pick ANY activity, and work at it for a long time, and you'll eventually acquite the skill to do it well. In essence, anybody can get good at anything if you do it long enough.
The answer to the age old question, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" is not only true about concert performance, but about anything involving music, including arranging: practice, practice, practice.
A simple childhood skill, acquired from the same piano lessons taken by practically every other elementary school kid in the '60's, has gradually grown into an enjoyable extra curricular activity, as wll as a part-time occupation. The goal has been to remain involved as long it remained fun to do so. For me, concert performance wasn't fun. But that didn't mean I should stop playing. Over 20 years, professional piano playing has evolved on four levels:
-theater groups and religious folk groups (circumstances surrounding the limited instrumentation available for each, prompted me to take up arranging as a hobby, with necessity being the mother of invention);
-teaching several piano students, and trying to show them how sufficient effort early on can result in significant fun later on (it always bothered me when students would quit);
-live performances, either during wedding services, or cocktail parties (I can’t count the number of people who, while at a cocktail party, have told me, "I took lessons when I was a kid, and I could kick myself for quitting.")
-music publications, with three books from Warner Brothers Publications.
For almost as long as I can remember, holiday time has meant playing at sing-a-longs, at religious services, and just for fun. I quickly learned that, when folks attending a party were paying to hear a live performance (as opposed to using prerecorded music), if I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, then they wouldn’t either.
Unfortunately, the "standard chorale-style" settings of familiar songs found in many Christmas books soon grew stale. There already were several collections of "alternate piano settings" of Christmas music available to rectify this boredom. However, most had only 2 or 3 playable and/or interesting arrangements, while the rest were either too simple, too complex, or just not fun to play. This was a high priority.
So, I started improvising from the standard holiday favorites, writing out ideas, and revising and testing my own arrangements. Each year, this set would evolve until finally, I settled on a reasonably static collection (although it still changes ever year), found some music display software, got them printed, and began the LONG process of bothering publishers. The result, many years later, was the private publication of a two volume set, "An Evening of Chiristmas," followed five years later by the Warner Brothers publication of the first two books, "A Cool Yule" and "A Swingin' Yule."
During my early piano training years in the '60's and '70's, I was continually admonished by my teachers to play the music, "the way it was written," while I would rather play it with different rhythms or harmonies, because I'd protest, "But I like it better this other way." It's a wonder that my teachers put up with me.
Since the style of swing has recently enjoyed a wonderful revival, the third collection, "If It Ain't Baroque, Just Swing It," takes that style, and imposes it upon the great music from centuries earlier. Here, the themes of the great masters receive a somewhat unorthodox presentation. These are not an improvement upon the genius of Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven, but they sure add a spark of amusement to these familiar melodies. You can still play the originals the way they were written, but now, you at least have the option to do it differently.
The goal for all these arrangements was always to have fun. However, while doing so, if there could be a way to share these collections with others, then maybe one more student would make the sufficient effort, discover that significant fun, and perhaps one less adult will find that reason to kick themselves. If so, then it would make this effort even more worthwhile.
There is the story in the parables of the judge who didn’t care about a widow, but finally granted her request because she was persistent. Many thanks to Dave of Warner Brothers, who received manuscripts from me 4 times in a 12 years, and finally said yes.
Many thanks also to Tony, my favorite fellow Italian in Florida, who persisted for years to get the first manuscripts into print, and now who keeps me busy with new projects. Thanks for your vote of confidence.
Many thanks to my parents, Connie and Joe, who pushed me to practice when I was younger, understood me later when I quit, and then supported me even later when I returned to taking lessons. I sign in my office says, "My parents never taught me how to live my life; they lived their lives, and let me watch." Thanks for being such great teachers.
Many thanks to my daughter, Elizabeth, for understanding that sometimes, "Daddy needs to work on the computer." Many thanks to my loving wife, Marie, for her undying support, and for always understanding, especially when Elizabeth didn't. Everything I do today, I do for them, with them, and because of them. Thank you for being there, and making my life so enjoyable.
Many thanks to my brothers, Dave and Joe, for their encouragement and support, and especially to my sister, Lisa (the author of over 18 books on her own), who was always there to provide assistance and guidance.
Many thanks to Shirish, my Holy Cross Music Theory Professor, who put up with me during my freshman year, provided guidance during my senior year, and still remembered me when I called him 15 years later. The fondation you gave me has made the difference - I guess studying counterpoint wasn't such a bad idea, after all. Thanks for inspiring that "reluctant kid" some 20 years ago.
Many thanks to Nick, "Mr. Wayno," the teacher, the musician, the author, the studio engineer, the audio & video wizard, the swing band leader, the theatrical producer, the choir director, and probably half dozen other music related occupations I'd forgotten. Thanks for not only providing the mechanics of getting mis music into the masters for Warner Brothers, but also providing guidance for the music itself. You are an amazing family man, and a good friend. Long Live "Crosswinds" & "Ja'Duke Productions"!!
Many thanks to Pam, my performance instructor many years ago, and my theory consultant recently, who toured the country, but remembered me when I found her and her husband via the internet some 20 years later, and then agreed to put up with my countless calls, e-mails, draft scores, and trial tapes, over the several months my projects, all to make these books a reality. I've never known anyone who lives life as fully as you do. Thanks you for all your help.
Many thanks also to the Introcaso’s and the Wegryn’s of New Jersey, who have welcomed this music into our wonderful family holiday celebrations over the past 25 years.
Many thanks to my professional musician friends, Ron Thayer and Bob Yurachko, for their advice, recommendations, understanding and support.
Finally, many thanks to my own piano teachers, Edna Kastner (during the 1960's), Pamela Vining (during the 1970's), and Professor Suzanna Waldbauer (during the 1980's). I can only hope that I've had a fraction of the impact on my own students, that each of you have had on me. God Bless You All.