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The Way Kelly Sill Hears Jazz Music


“Deck the Halls”

Singers Unlimited––Christmas (1971)

Gene Puerling, Len Dresslar,

Bonnie Herman and Don Shelton (all vocal)

0:03    It begins in time, and they sound great.

0:05    We hear them breathe in before they start.

0:11    Now they’re out of time; their pitch is gorgeous.

0:16    And now they are back in time––this is very traditional harmony.

0:19    Very traditional.

0:24    Nothing out of the ordinary here.

0:33    And they end the phrase.

0:37    More of the same; it does sound great!

0:45    That’s a little different––stretching the harmony a little bit.

0:53    Nice.

0:59    Whoa! The harmony is clearly what I call “jazz harmony.”

1:04    Beautiful voice leading the way––only jazz players can do that.

1:07    And the execution is incredible!

1:14    A great reharmonization.

1:19    There’s clearly no improvisation here, however, this is jazz to me.

1:23    This is great music.

1:39    Beautiful voice leading.

1:49    And beautiful as they are


1:52    Now they come in really strong again.

1:57    That was wild! Great


2:02    And this is more traditional, pretty much the way that they started.

2:14    The retards that they do are

            wonderfully intuitive and


2:23    Again, the traditional harmonies.

2:32    Another impeccable retard.



2:43    And they end with the beautiful reharm of the very end.

2:45    Another great cut!



There could be arguments made that this is not a jazz cut. To me, four great jazz singers singing with the sensibility of jazz musicians is jazz. The fact that there is no improvisation does not negate that fact, anymore that some of Duke Ellington’s greatest works eventually contained very little improvisation. 

––Kelly Sill

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