What's Perfect Together? Jazz and Christmas!

Nov 30, 2017

Tenor sax player, composer, and arranger Tim Warfield has been performing professionally since he was sixteen. He was able to improvise at a very early age and says that by now he thinks of the saxophone as an extension of himself.

“I probably was listening to jazz in the womb,” says Warfield. Both his parents love jazz and he was brought up in a home filled with jazz, classical, and gospel music—but jazz dominated.  Listen to tracks from his New York Times-recommended Jazzy Christmas CD.

Each year, Warfield adds more Christmas tunes to his roving "All-star Jazzy Christmas” show, which started small and has grown. This year's show takes place on Friday, December 8th at 8 pm in the High Center at Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA.  

Vocalist Joanna Pascale, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Anthony Wonsey, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Clarence Penn will join Warfield for this year's All-Star Jazzy Christmas show.  

In addition to performing and arranging, Warfield also teaches at Temple’s Boyer College and Music and Dance, and is artist-in-residence at Messiah College.

Radio script:

Meridee Duddleston: Years ago around Christmas, carols piped in during a break in a live jazz set led to a realization. Saxophonist, composer and arranger Tim Warfield listened up and had an idea.

Tim Warfield: It annoyed me that I wasn’t hip enough to be current.  And I was like, ‘Oh no, you’re never going to play jazz tunes during Christmas, you’re going to play Jazzy Christmas tunes.’ 

MD:  And so Warfield’s annual jazz take on Christmas music began as part of his regular performances.  Slowly, with one or two tunes, but they caught on immediately.

TW: And that helped me to connect with audiences.  And then later on I’d say, ‘Well I want to do some new ones.’  Or I’d hear something in my head.  I’d go to the piano and start to arrange something new.  And this just kept going on and on and on to the point where I had, I actually had, too much music. 

MD:  Warfield, who lives in York, Pennsylvania, performs, records, teaches, and once a year builds a show around holiday music.  Jazzy Christmas matured into a CD that was recommended in the New York Times 2013 Holiday CD Gift Guide. Warfield thinks the popularity of his concept has a lot to do with melodies that are deeply familiar to many.

TW:  You know I can play as crazy as I like.  We can have as much fun and be as adventurous as we’d like to.  It’s in their bodies… so we can do whatever we want and they get it.  And they really get it.  And so it makes it very fun for them.

MD:  Santa’s coming to town, even if his sleigh takes the scenic route.