This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Battle of the Bands: Cristo Redentor

       If you're here for your first visit to Battle of the Bands then let me quickly explain the concept.  It's quite simple.   Two versions of one song are presented in this post.  You vote on your favorite version and tell us why you prefer that version.  Battle of the Bands originates from the bloggers at Far Away Series and Stephen T McCarthy (note that he has a brand new blog dedicated to the Battle of the Bands posts).  After you've voted on my contest, be sure to visit those blogs as well as the others listed at the end of this post.  

      Who isn't familiar with the iconic statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro?  If you watched any of the World Cup this summer you undoubtedly saw repeated images of the statue.  Today's Battle song for Tossing It Out was inspired by the statue and is appropriately called "Cristo Redentor". 

Donald Byrd "Cristo Redentor"  (1963)

         Written and arranged by jazz pianist Duke Pearson, "Cristo Redentor" first appeared on trumpeter Donald Byrd's A New Perspective in 1963.  He had a bit of hit with his rendition though I don't recall ever having heard it before compiling this BOTB post.   This version has Duke tickling the ivories and Donald blowing a horn like a cool cool breeze.  And there's a choir of angels in the background.  This is about as good as it can get.

Harvey Mandel "Cristo Redentor"  (1968)

           Then again maybe Harvey Mandel's mellow guitar sound will win you over. This version still has the angels, but with a harp and strings that are as sweet as ethereal syrups drizzled over a platter of pancakes from heaven.   This is the first version that I heard of this song back around 1971 or so.   A friend played me Mandel's album and I immediately went out and procured a copy of my own.

 Want More?

          If you're diggin' this song as much as I do you might want to check out the samba version by Vince Guaraldi, a very nice jazzy version by saxophonist David Sanborn, and the amazing tour-de-force by blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite.   Don't vote on any of these as much as you might be tempted to so we can keep the contest simple, but I just wanted to offer a few other versions cause I absolutely dig this song.

Now Vote Please

         In the comments tell us which version you prefer and why.  And then after you've voted here, visit the following blogs to vote on their Battles:

FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
'Stephen T. McCarthy' by clicking HERE.
 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
 ‘DISCCONNECTED’ by clicking HERE.
 CHRIS FRIES by clicking HERE.

Thanks for participating!


  1. Tough one. I liked the jazz feel of the first, but the angel voices not so much, in fact grated so much I fast forwarded to the instruments!
    The second was quite haunting, gave me goosebumps, but glad it was a couple of minutes shorter than the other.
    So I liked parts of both, can I vote for a tie? No? Then my vote goes to Harvey Mandel :) x

  2. Second one seemed smother. I like that one best.

  3. Can't say that either one stands out over the other, though I guess I'd have to pick Harvey's if I must. However, the voices on both of them made me feel like I was getting ready to watch a James Bond movie.

  4. You sure pick some obscure stuff. :)

  5. Overall they are great, though the second is more relaxing and like Alex said "SMMOOOTHHHH'RRR"... though am not sure it was like that.

  6. Suzanne--I agree it's a pretty close race.

    Alex-- Are you saying you felt smothered?

    Sheila-- Oh yeah, James Bond-- I guess I can get that.

    JoJo-- Obscure? Who, me?

    Jeremy-- They're both pretty smooth I think.


  7. That's a tough one. I'll go with the first one but the second one is right there.

  8. BIRD...
    I vote for the BYRD!

    Easy choice.

    When I first read the song title I thought: Oh! I know this one!

    Then I saw Donald Byrd put up against Harvey Mandel (take away his balloons and latex gloves and give him a guitar instead and he's not nearly so funny) and I thought: Well, maybe I DON'T know this one.

    Then I read a little further and saw the name CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE and I thought: Yeah! I knew I knew this one!

    I used to own the Musselwhite version on a Blues compilation album I had. Although I think it was titled 'Cristo RedeMptor'.

    I play by the BOTBer's rules because I want readers/voters to play by MY rules too. But if I had my way, I would DEFINITELY vote for the Charlie Musselwhite version in a heartbeat.

    But I honor your wishes, so I will vote for the Donald Byrd version. Generally, I prefer horns over guitars. But in this case my choice was made even easier because in the Mandel version, his guitar seemed to "play second fiddle" to the vocals. That's NOT how it should have beEN... in my opinYEN!

    Musslewhite's version is head and shoulders better than either of these versions (N my opinYEN), but Byrd infuses the song with a little passion that seems entirely missing in the Mandel version (2 mE).

    Good song choice, BOIDMAN!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  9. Mike--I agree that this is a one will work as good as the next sort of choice. They're both good.

    StMc-- I avoided using the Musselwhite version since it was so long and I wanted to respect the voters out there. I'd agree t hat that version is a real winner. I think you are also correct about the spelling of the tune on the bluesman's album version.


  10. Harvey Mandel sounds like it could've been on "Dark side of the Moon" The moonlanding footage helps, but the guitar gives the whole thing a big Pink Floyd feel. Vote for making me think of "Great Gig in the Sky".

  11. I listened to all of the selections, even the three that were not a part of the contest. I promise I’ll play by the rules this time, but I have to say that I liked the three that you did not include in this BOTB better than the two that you did. I’m a long-time fan of David Sanborn and probably prefer his over all of the others, but the Charlie Musselwhite and Vince Guaraldi were excellent also.

    Of the two you did present for a vote, I’ll have to go with David Byrd. The Harvey Mandel was literally a little too ‘spacey’ for my taste. Not a particular fan of the ‘angels’ on either recording.

    Give my vote to David Byrd.

  12. I'm going with Byrd-the arrangement interested me more.


  13. Samuel-- Now that you mention it I can hear a Pink Floyd sound in Mandel's arrangement.

    FAE-- It was a difficult decision not to use those other three arrangements, but I did want to use the original as well as the Mandel arrangement that first caught my ear so long ago.

    Larry-- I'm listening to that arrangement more closely. Will the Byrd fly away with this contest?


  14. Very cool song. I was not familiar with it, Lee. I like the soulful, bluesy vibe of the Byrd version, but was a bit disappointed I to wait almost 2 minutes to get to the horn and to hear the piano stretch out on the tune. But by the 4-minute mark, it's very, very good.

    Mandel's version is spacier, with the delay and vibrato in full force. The vocals are mainly more in the background except for the lead female voice, which is spacey and actually a bit annoying. I like Harvey Mandel -- I used to have a John Mayall album that he played on, and he was a decent blues player.

    Many times, I tend to lean towards the guitars in BOTB battles, but this is one where I'm going with the jazz horn and piano. Mandell's version is a little too spacey -- if the guitar had taken more of the lead instead of the "whoo-woo" high-pitched female voice, it might have won, but as recorded, I have to go for Donald Byrd's version.

  15. Not fond of either one, sorry Lee, but I'll vote for Mandel because I like the space visuals.

    You must have more interesting albums in your old vinyl. Just sayin'. . .

  16. Lee, I just don't know. In the first minute of the second song, I'd have taken the first, by the end I'd have taken the second. When all is done, I guess I'll go with the one I'd most like to lie back and fall asleep to- #2.

    And obscure works if it opens the mind to new places. I think these two qualify.

  17. Love the angels on both versions and reminds me of Ennio Morricone and his music from the spaghetti westerns...just the angelic singing part. The first one I can see in a small bar where people jam. It's smoke filled and the drinks are in the foreground. It belongs in the Kitchen-sink films that were done in the 60's. The 2nd one is more refined , I guess by using the harp and violins. I like the first one better. It feels more true to me and I can get lost in the music. Now I will listen to the others as I didn't want to listen to them before voting:) I love your choices!!!

  18. OK I listened to the other 3 and ....I still like the 1st one the best. There is a rawness to it and an ambience that it brings. The other versions are brilliant in their playing but the sax always reminds me of a typical 80's movie where the 2 stars "get down" and dirty. Of these 3 I like the Salsa style the best but I still love the first one...maybe it is the angelic voices

  19. Chris---This song is not exemplary of most of Mandel's work I think. He is a fine guitar player.

    DG-- I have such a wide range of music in my collection. I love the dreamy sound of this song so it's a good one by me.

    CW-- I think you touch upon a good point with obscurity. The tunes that don't have any connect to the mainstream lend themselves well to making more personal connections and that's why I think I prefer the less known pieces.

    Birgit-- Love the story line you've added to set the mood regarding these two versions.


  20. I think I liked the Donald Byrd version more. Jazzier. The second one sounded almost Star Trek-y.

  21. They were both about the same for me, so I'd say a tie. If you want a specific pick, I'll go with the second one.

  22. I will admit that NORMALLY the vocals speak loudly to me on any given song and can win out as the favorite if the vocals are to my taste. I think both of these songs would have been better with NO vocals. And that is STRONG coming from me.

    I liked the first one much better than the second one. Although it didn't do anything for me until the horn and piano were introduced. In other words, the first two minutes of the song were rather painful. And the entire song was painful on the second one. However, in the Byrd version I can honestly say I LIKED it after the two minute mark (or thereabouts).

    So another vote for the Byrd.

  23. Good post Lee, hope you are enjoying your vacation.
    I too go with Madel.


  24. Shannon-- Star Trek-y? We're getting some interesting perspectives on this one.

    Susanne -- There is a lot of similarity in the arrangements I agree.

    Robin-- I think the vocals were part of the intent in establishing an ethereal spiritual element.

    Suze--- got your vote for Howie--I mean Harvey.

    Yvonne-- Vacation is almost coming to an end and my visiting activity should be more active soon.


  25. I'm a sucker for strings and I loved the harp, violins etc and the background voice, so I'll vote for the second one. It had more lilt to it than number one.

    BTW I know you love Jazz. Just got to see Ramsey Lewis in person last week. What a treat that was.

  26. C.Lee-- Ramsey must be getting up there in the years. I enjoyed his hit "The In Crowd" when I was in junior high if I'm not mistaken. He does some good jazz.


  27. He is in his 80's, but he looked wonderful. So elegant and the crowd was silent while he played. The venue is a small village square where people bring picnics and eat while people perform. There was no eating or anything else while that man was on stage.

  28. Loved them both for different reasons. Talk about specific mood music. For today though, I liked the haunting sounds in Donald's version best.

    tomorrow I may change my mind though :)

  29. Harvey Mandel's version wins hands down for the very reasons that you gave. Of course your description of the song comparing it to a platter of pancakes may have persuaded my mind a teeny bit. lol

  30. C.Lee -- Good to know he got the respect he deserves.

    Donna -- That's how I am for a lot of these battles including this one.

    Cathy -- I must have been hungry for breakfast when I wrote that thing about the pancakes.



Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.