Pianist Oscar Peterson's Frank Sinatra tribute features his trio (with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen) playing easy listening jazz versions of a dozen songs associated with the singer. The renditions are all under four minutes and are highlighted by "Come Dance with Me," "Just in Time," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and "How About You?" This is not one of Oscar Peterson's most essential dates, but it is swinging and enjoyable.
The Songbooks inherited from the musical tradition of Broadway are at the epicentre of Oscar Peterson´s musical culture; this was also the case for the one he regarded as a master : Art Tatum. It was to the extent that Oscar Peterson recorded them twice. The first time was at the beginning of 1950s principly as a Trio with guitar and double bass, then a second time with double bass and drums a few years later. It is this first wonderful remastered series that is presented to you here. Technical mastery, irresistible swing, constant inventivness and a remarkable complicity with Ray Brown, Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis characterise this sum of inexhaustible richness.
Pianist Oscar Peterson has made a remarkable number of records through the years and his two songbook series for Verve (each recording features the songs of a different composer) were extensive, to say the least. During 1952-54 he cut ten albums (113 songs) and in 1959 he added nine more records (108 songs), in addition to his regular busy activities. Because these were essentially easy-listening sets with concise interpretations that always kept the melodies of the composers close by, they are not considered Peterson's greatest work but they are enjoyable in their own right. This particular two-CD set has some of the highlights from these marathon projects, most of which (the Gershwin songbooks excepted) had never been out on CD before…
Pianist Oscar Peterson has long been such a consistent performer that none of his records are throwaways, but this particular set is weaker than most. Since several of the songs are the type that in the mid-'60s would get requested (such as "People," "The Girl from Ipanema," and "The Days of Wine and Roses"), the program would not seem to have much potential, but Peterson mostly uplifts the material (although not much could be done with "People") and adds a few songs (such as his own "Goodbye, J.D." and John Lewis' "D & E"). Overall, this is a reasonably enjoyable Oscar Peterson session, featuring bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen.
Part of his five sessions that featured duets with different trumpeters, pianist Oscar Peterson's matchup with trumpeter Roy Eldridge has its strong moments. Eldridge did not quite have the range of his earlier years, but his competitive streak had not mellowed with age. Peterson pushes Eldridge to his limit and the music is generally quite exciting. Highlights include "Little Jazz," "Sunday," and "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea."
Oscar Peterson has continued to fill concert halls - for good reason - following his return after a serious stroke in 1993. This 2003 concert, recorded in Vienna, shows a packed house enthusiastically applauding the veteran pianist and his quartet, which includes old friends Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass, drummer Martin Drew, and the relative youngster of the group, guitarist Ulf Wakenius. In spite of the damage the stroke did to Peterson's once powerful left hand, he has hardly lost his ability to swing hard; he simply relies more heavily on his right hand and the strong support of his group. The 11 songs from this concert are dominated by Peterson's originals, including old favorites like his gospel-inflected "Hymn to Freedom" and "Wheatland" (from his Canadiana Suite) and new works like the tender ballad "When Summer Comes"…
Since playing the Great American Songbook oft times reveals the depth of a musician's ability to read charts, one might assume that is what's happening here. Thankfully, Oscar Peterson never needed no stinkin' fake book, as he learned the tunes and played them, by ear, with effortless acumen. A 19-song collection of chestnuts, this CD includes many well worn standards, swing to bop interpretations and a good stack of Duke Ellington numbers. Right-hand man Ray Brown is on the bass, but it is Barney Kessel, not OP's regular guitarist Herb Ellis on the date. There are more definitive compilations, and many others certain to come after Peterson's passing in 2007.
Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol, Art Tatum, Peterson's speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo were amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, O.P. was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style did not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing formed during the mid- to late '40s and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson was criticized through the years because he used so many notes, didn't evolve much since the 1950s, and recorded a remarkable number of albums.
Although the music of this two-LP set was recording at a concert in the Soviet Union, it is a fairly typical recital by pianist Oscar Peterson with no obvious reference to the exotic location. Peterson takes five selections unaccompanied, performs four others as duets with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and adds drummer Jake Hanna to the nine remaining numbers. Other than three originals, all of the music is comprised of veteran standards and, although no real surprises occur, the results are what one would expect from the great Oscar Peterson, who alternates hard swingers with sensitive ballad renditions.