This is one of the slickest, most cosmopolitan Jazz albums ever. There is a lush orchestra arranged by Claus Ogerman, that leaves enough room for Peterson's improvisations and manages to actually compliment his dynamic style. Ogerman was originally from Munich, before he started to work as an arranger for stars like Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim and recently Diana Krall. In 1969 he arranged this album for Oscar Peterson called, which originally came out on MPS, a label located in Villingen, a small town in the German backwoods of the Black Forrest.
Two former LPs by big bands led by bassist Oscar Pettiford (who doubles on cello) are reissued in full on this single CD. The arrangements by Gigi Gryce, Lucky Thompson, and Benny Golson feature a lot of concise solos, an inventive use of the harp (either by Janet Putnam or Betty Glamann), and colorful ensembles. Among the many soloists are trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonists Jimmy Cleveland and Al Grey, the French horn of Julius Watkins, the tenors of Thompson or Golson, and the bassist-leader. This formerly rare music is highly recommended to straight-ahead jazz fans, for it is full of fresh material and subtle surprises.
West Side Story was a bit of an unusual session for several reasons. First, the popularity of both the Broadway musical and the film version that followed meant that there were many records being made of its music. Second, rather than woodshed on the selections prior to entering the studio, the Oscar Peterson Trio spontaneously created impressions of the musical's themes on the spot. "Something's Coming" seems like a series of vignettes, constantly shifting its mood, as if moving from one scene to the next. Ray Brown plays arco bass behind Peterson in the lovely "Somewhere," while the feeling to "Jet Song" is very hip in the trio's hands…
This 1959 album is the second of Oscar Petersons two 50's Duke Ellington Songbook recordings and the first one in stereo. On this album the line-up is Oscar Peterson (Piano), Ray Brown (Double Bass) and Ed Thigpen (Drums). The first Ellington songbook album by Peterson and his trio, the 1952 album Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington was a mono recording. Both albums were digitally remastered and compiled on one CD for the Verve Master Edition re-release series in 1999.