Compilations of Christmas jazz often include “We Free Kings,” a 1961 adaptation of the carol by Roland Kirk. The album of the same title was a breakthrough for the multi-instrumentalist, in part introducing his uncanny ability to work familiar melodies into his music. Late in that decade he recorded half an album, Rahsaan Rahsaan, on Christmas Eve at the Village Vanguard.
The program included on the album, his first to use the swami-like name Irene, doesn’t include any holiday music per se. It does close with risqué blues titled “Baby Let Me Shake Your Tree,” which Kirk credits to “an old gypsy blues singer.” It seemed like as good a place as any to post this year’s first Christmas song.
We have a rule in our house about shaking the Christmas tree. Also about letting the cat climb it.