CapRadio’s annual Jingle Bell Jazz has been enlivening Christmas Eve listeners for over 40 years now, hosted live every December 24th and featuring holiday jazz classics to create the perfect Christmas Eve atmosphere.
But Jingle Bell Jazz started not just with an idea, but a spectral premonition for CapRadio’s Jazz Music Director Gary Vercelli. Here's the [mostly true] story of how it came to be.
T’was the 23rd of December two score years ago,
and Gary Vercelli had no Christmas Eve show.
Bitter he was for working this day,
Gary said to himself, “who cares what I play?"
Walking home among the trees on this cold and damp night,
Gary stopped at Tower Records where he was met with a fright.
Not a Kenny G record, which is what he feared most;
but before him stood tall, a jazz radio ghost.
“What say you?” cried Gary, his will undeterred. “What have you to say I’ve not already heard?”
“Three spirits will visit this penultimate eve;
Jennifer, Kevin, and a third one called Steve. But their names matter not,
for it’s a warning they bring; of Christmas Eve, jazz, bossa nova and swing.”
With that, the ghost vanished — not a trace left in sight;
Gary went home to his bed and promptly turned out the light.
At the stroke of three he awoke as if he’d not slept at all, and there,
three figures were — at his back bedroom wall.
Two of them were arguing, left and right of his room; and a third, saying nothing,
in the darkness it loomed.
“Jazz is tradition! The past can’t be forgotten.
Armstrong and Basie; without them, jazz is rotten.”
“The present is what matters. Veronica Swift? She’s the greatest.
For jazz to move forward, we must hear the latest!”
Gary listened to this with naught but dismay,
“See what I mean? Who cares what I play?”
The third spirit rose, and said not a word. It simply pointed to a future,
one without a sound to be heard.
Then in Gary’s heart, a new idea flickered. It came to him suddenly as the other two bickered.
“This music is for all; present, future, and past. So, each Christmas Eve, I’ll play Jingle Bell Jazz.”