Christmas time at the museum

I once happened to make a little Christmas film. It all started with a phone call from the local museum.

They had in store an automatic orchestra from the 1920s. When you turned it on it used to play some music from a special disc and move along with it, a normal size 7 pieces band called Robot Jazz Band. A very peculiar museum piece, and now they wanted to put it in action again at an inauguration only a few weeks ahead.

But the disc with the music to go along with the movements was long gone and the reason for calling me was that someone thought that I might have a record in my collection that would fit.

So I went down to have a look at it. It moved at a rather slow tempo so the happy, roaring twenties music was ruled out. And furthermore it had a peculiar combination of instruments; drums, banjo, guitar, trumpet, trombone and violin. One of the figures had probably been holding a bass violin that was stolen or lost over the many years gone by, so he was now acting as a director.

No bass and no reed instrument and a slow tempo. That was very hard to find on a record of their time. I found one tune to send to them, but I added that in case it was not good enough I would have to record something in the style.

It had to do for the planned event, but some time later I had an offer and got a budget to record something for the Robot Jazz Band. I made some arrangements of a couple of seldom heard tunes and even wrote one in the style myself that I called The Beauty of Our Time. When it came to recording I decided, mostly for practical reasons to do the overdubbing myself with the exception of violin and drums, that are instruments that I do not play.

The result was a success and for years the automatic orchestra gave a concert in the museum for an astonished audience every Saturday afternoon. But it was very fragile, so after every appearance there was something in the mechanical construction that had to be fixed.

When the winter of 2009 was approaching I had another call from the museum. The town had decided to use the now very popular Robot Jazz Band in a film with Christmas greetings. Could I arrange and record a suitable tune for that? My choice was Jingle Bells that possibly could be played in the proper slow tempo.

I don’t know how the creative process went, but later the director of the film wanted me to sing the song as well, and to appear in the film. A dance company was involved, and the plot was that things should start to happen in a part of the museum at night. Except the orchestra they have old cars, tramways and a submarine from World War II there, so I was to take on the role of the boats captain and one cold winter day everything was shot.

Every year since, this is a good way for me to wish you all: