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…
Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and pianist Oscar Peterson are the stars of this delightful collection of jazz recordings supervised by producer Norman Granz over an almost exactly 12-month period extending from 1953 to 1954. Granz's marvelous knack for bringing together excellent musicians resulted in the combined presence of trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, trombonist Bill Harris, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, tenor saxophonists Ben Webster and Flip Phillips, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Buddy Rich. The combination of musical minds is extraordinary, and Hamp's amazing wavelength is dependably positive and uplifting.
Here are Oscar Peterson's first recordings, made in Canada before his U.S. breakthrough under the wing of Norman Granz. These Montreal recordings first came out as singles on the Canadian branch of the Victor label. As such, they don't come up for reissue air very often, which is a real shame, because there's some truly extraordinary performances here, including "I Got Rhythm," "In a Little Spanish Town," "Blue Moon," "Sweet Lorraine," and "The Sheik of Araby." Peterson is nothing short of jaw-droppingly excellent on these sides, his playing every bit as deft on the ballads as it is on the uptempo numbers. Plain and simply, these performances belong in every jazz lover's collection.
Verve Jazz Masters 37 presents an introduction to the recordings of Oscar Peterson. The enclosed booklet includes biographical material and commentary on the songs selected.
Ever since the beginning of jazz its practitioners have embraced the songs of musical theater as a source for interpretation. But who can explain why show music has such a hold over jazz artists - especially when there are enough original compositions within their own medium to choose for reinterpretation. Perhaps it's because this music has universal appeal, and a song grows with each new recording by a different performer…
There are at least five Oscar Petersons on display on this comprehensive box set representing his work with the legendary Norman Granz and celebrating his 80th birthday on Aug. 15th, 2005. CDs 1-5 feature Oscars' work interpreting the Great American Songbook where he and Granz "tried to draw more people into jazz." CD 6 contains his first session with Granz as he accompanies Billie Holiday on 16 sides that show his talent as an accompanist. CDs 7-8 capture Oscars' collaboration with 4 tenor sax men: Lester Young, Ben Webster, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie, plus a rare session with Flip Phillips. CDs 9-10 feature the entire 1954 issue from the Jazz At The Philharmonic, including Oscar playing with Lester Young, Bill Harris and Ray Brown.
In what was a giant undertaking (even for producer Norman Granz), pianist Oscar Peterson recorded ten Songbook albums during 1952-1954 and when his trio changed, nine more in 1959. Both of his George Gershwin projects (one from 1952 and the other from 1959) have been reissued in full on this single CD. The earlier date matches the brilliant Peterson with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Brown, while the 1959 session has Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. The Songbook series found Peterson playing concise (around three-minute) versions of tunes, and he always kept the melody in the forefront. The results are not innovative or unique, but they are tasteful and reasonably enjoyable. Since five of the songs are played by both groups, a comparison between the two units is interesting.
Despite the pessimistic title, all of the members of this particular quartet (vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Grady Tate) were still active into the mid-'90s. The music is unsurprising but still quite enjoyable and virtuosic as Bags and Co. perform blues, standards and ballads with their usual swing and bop-based creativity. Highlights include the title cut, "Stuffy," "What Am I Here For" and a vibes-piano duo version of "A Time for Love."
The material here was recorded for the Verve and MPS labels, and this two-disc, import retrospective of the work of legendary pianist Oscar Peterson is not only representative, but solid from top to bottom, showcasing many of his finest moments on wax in both live and studio recordings with his great trio of Herb Ellis and Ray Brown as well as in other settings. This is as fine an introduction as there is and, for the money, simply cannot be beaten.
Jerome Kern's stage tunes - going back to the late '20s with the acclaimed presentation Show Boat - right up to the '40s, will forever be at the core of quintessential American popular songs that hold a dear place in the heart of all straight-ahead jazz performers. Oscar Peterson's immortal trio with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen play Kern's themes expertly, with no small degree of interpretation, and a clever angle on these well-worn songs that only Peterson can self-identify with his genius mindset…