In March 2020, few of us thought that Christmas might be as difficult as it’s currently looking. Now we all need as much cheer as possible so, although it may be a little early as I write this, I’m enjoying I’ll Be Home For Christmas from celebrated British pianist Gabriel Latchin and his trio.
What’s clever about Latchin’s approach to seasonal ditties is that this is a fine jazz album first. Working closely with drummer Josh Morrison and bassist Dario Di Lecce, the piano trio format produces a swinging treat that will brighten everyone’s December when this album is launched.
Eschewing his established role as composer for all but one of the tracks, Latchin instead reinterprets some familiar jazz standards that happen to boast festive titles, tipping his musical hat to some of his idols.
Christmas really wouldn’t be the same without music, and we have yet to discover how we will be able to experience any music as 2020 draws to a close. For most families, the start of December brings licence to dig out the Jingle Bells playlist and the shops and restaurants we are still able to visit will certainly be contributing with varying degrees of taste. Latchin provides all of us with some musical joy in some old classics, many of them written in the 1930s and 40s. “I have no doubt that melodies as beautiful as The Christmas Song or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas would be enjoyed year round were Christmas not in the title,” says Latchin in the sleeve notes. “To this selection I have added two perennial carols that are personal favourites of mine, and one original composition, a dedication to friendship.”
He adds: “I set myself the exciting challenge of presenting these well-known tunes through the eyes of my musical idols. For example, how might Bill Evans approach I’ll Be Home for Christmas? What would Ahmad Jamal do with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Others include Herbie Hancock, Phineas Newborn, Barry Harris, Cedar Walton and Thelonious Monk.”
For me, those interpretations are absolutely apt and successful, so I’ll Be Home For Christmas will form the core of my Christmas playlist.
3.Santa Claus is Coming to Town
4.I’ll Be Home For Christmas
5.A Toast To Friends
6.The Christmas Song
8.God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
9.Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
10.Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer