Tripping Bells: Skoofer

Attention must be paid to the big band novelty number “Santa’s Secret.” This jazz rambler from 1944 never saw light of day until Savoy published it with other holiday oddities in 1985 (Mr. Santa’s Boogie). Johnny Guarnieri was an Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman veteran and a teacher and mentor out of L.A. The song here is a thief in your mind, dazzling you with sleights of polyrhythms and improvisation, then leaving a dangerous idea in its wake: Santa + reefer. (Squirrel Nut Zippers try to copy this lightning in a bottle with mixed results.)