Eddie Higgins Trio

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
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Jingle Bells
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O Little Town Of Bethlehem
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The Christmas Song
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White Christmas
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Winter Wonderland
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Oh Christmas Trio, Oh Christmas Trio, Of All The Trios Most Lovely

The Eddie Higgins Trio might not be the first act to pop into your head when thoughts turn to Christmas music but to discount them would be to deny oneself a stuffed stocking full of festive delights. Eddie Higgins Christmas music is a world away from the bright and shiny tat that is so often peddled as festive offerings, with a style that crosses the swing/jazz divide. Higgins played a free style piano game that saw him lauded in jazz circles all around the world but it wasn't until 2001 and his move into the Japanese market that Eddie infiltrated Jay Leonhart (bass) and Joe Ascione (drums). With that the Eddie Higgins Trio was born and 3 years later in 2004 the trio recorded their first volume of 'Christmas Songs', with 'Christmas Songs II' appearing a couple of years later in 2006.

'Christmas Songs' did not reveal anything new, all 12 songs were already Christmas classics, but Higgins piano playing illustrates his lightness of touch and a nuanced reading of festive familiarity. There are improvisations aplenty and while the thrust of these lively instrumentals are readily recognisable Higgins offers short bursts of new asides that give songs like ‘Sleigh Ride’ a renewed vigour. Another undoubted highlight is ‘The Christmas Waltz’ that was just made for a loungey remake wherein it slinks and schmoozes with all the beautiful people at an invite only backstreet bar. ‘White Christmas’ is also to be lapped up, as much to give yourself a break from Bing’s overarching everywhereness during the month of December.

Despite the undoubted success of Higgins' first volume the follow-up, 2006’s 'Christmas Songs II', was initially released in certain Asian markets only. It can however be bought on import or streamed if you are not worried about the physical medium. And the little extra effort is worth it because while Eddie Higgins second volume of festive interpretations may lack the vivaciousness and invention of his first outing it is still an outstanding listen for any seasonal occasion you care to mention. How could you not be enchanted by an inventive version of ‘Jingle Bells’ that extends beyond the 6-minute mark? Some might scoff at the thought of a Christmas album without vocals but Eddie Higgins does everything in his power to make that piano sing and for a lot of people that is more than enough to vividly colour the season.

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