Album Name: Night Train
Band: The Oscar Peterson Trio
Release Date: 1963
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It’s December, and the nights are getting longer. Every year, we exchange minutes of hazy sunlight for strings of rainbow twinkle lights and we raise giant inflatable storm troopers holding candy canes (Mmm, secular!) By lighting up our city, we embrace the night time and that’s when we really shine. So put on ‘Night Train’ by The Oscar Peterson Trio to drink in the romance of a cold snowy night in the city.
I’ve had this record in rotation for many many years, and I only pull it out around the holidays even though technically it ain’t Christmas music. That’s why I love it for early December. If you’re not ready to hear “All I Want for Christmas” on an ear-bleeding loop just yet, but still want to feel just a little cinnamon spicy and jingly in the fingertips then this is the album for you. Think of it as a spiritual prequel to the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack.
The Great Canadian Oscar Peterson is one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. You’ll hear it in his rendition of “Georgia on My Mind.” The precision with which he plays doesn’t sterilize, but purifies the expressiveness of the melodic line. His playing is so damn smooth you could just drink it in like hot cocoa.
Another highlight of the record is “Hymn to Freedom” which is unequivocal proof that music can evoke emotion in perfect clarity without a single lyric. It starts as a churchy carol, then lilts into an easy swing. When Peterson gets fancier, it’s as if he’s dressing it up for a celebration. Then the song slowly builds until Peterson is thrumming through the keys to make the piano sound like a mighty choir, and drops out to ease us back into our couches to appreciate the afterglow of hope and goodwill.
‘Night Train’ by The Oscar Peterson Trio is the kind of music you can build warm memories around. Play it in your home as you decorate for the holidays, light candles, maybe put a funny hat on your cat. Enjoy these long nights as a time to create your own light