Oscar Peterson Plays The Harold Arlen Song Book Oscar Peterson

Album info



Label: Verve

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Bebop

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  • 1Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe02:14
  • 2Stormy Weather02:43
  • 3Over The Rainbow02:18
  • 4The Man That Got Away02:39
  • 5Ill Wind02:33
  • 6Let's Fall In Love02:19
  • 7As Long As I Live02:25
  • 8Come Rain Or Come Shine02:37
  • 9Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive02:01
  • 10Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea02:42
  • 11I've Got The World On A String02:29
  • 12That Old Black Magic02:59
  • Total Runtime29:59

Info for Oscar Peterson Plays The Harold Arlen Song Book

„This re-release combines all the tracks from two earlier albums recorded in 1954 & 1959 with two versions of the trio. Oscar and Ray Brown are on both, but the later trio has Ed Thigpen on drums instead of Ray Ellis on guitar. Both sessions demonstrate Oscar Peterson’s complete mastery of the works of Harold Arlen. Although I feel certain it was not intended, the trio took over where Nat Cole left off. Nat was himself a great jazz pianist and he often performed in Jazz at the Philharmonic in its earlier forms. Oscar of course made that chair his own, when he took over from Nat and stayed to the end. Nat Cole didn’t do so bad either as No1 Male vocalist worldwide! It may be of interest for readers to know that on the very few vocal recordings Oscar has made, he sounds just like Nat ‘King’ Cole.

For my money, Oscar is without any doubt the greatest pianist that jazz has produced. There are people like Art Tatum, who had perhaps a better sense of harmonics and many players have maybe pushed the frontiers harder, but there has never been anyone to swing at the drop of a hat on every session, the way Oscar has always done. Genius is an overused word these days, but Oscar truly merits it

The 1954 tracks, 1 to 12 have a certain amount of surface noise, as they have been re-mastered from the original disc, but it doesn’t detract in any way from the enjoyment, fortunately the masters were available for the later recordings.

The sound is obviously different between the two trios and despite my being a big fan of Herb Ellis, I prefer the trio with Ed Thigpen on the drums. Oscar is such a monster piano player that he does not need anyone to ‘comp’ whilst he is soloing, he does that as well. It seems a little curious to me that the tracks on the second part of the album are so short, on most we get the melody, one improvised chorus and then out.

Many of the tunes are played in both halves of the record and as you would expect with a jazz performance, if you visit the same tune five years later, it has developed and changed. This of course is the essence of the jazz performance as opposed to other musical forms and it is what makes jazz such interesting music.

An earlier reference to Nat Cole reminded me that ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’ was a tune he regularly featured with his trio. Oscar’s technique and ideas are well illustrated in this track, it is a simple tune, but he makes it into something special and Herb Ellis also has a fine if short solo. Most of all it swings all the way through.

This re-release will be very welcome by all the Peterson fans and let us hope that anyone not familiar with his past work will take the opportunity to catch up.“ (Don Mather, MusicWeb International)

Oscar Peterson, piano
Ray Brown, double bass (on tracks 13 to 24)
Ed Thigpen, drums
Herb Ellis, guitar (on tracks 1 to 12)

Recorded July 14-August 9, 1959 at Universal Recorders, Chicago, IL
Produced Norma Granz

Digitally remastered

Please Note: We offer this album in its native sampling rate of 48 kHz, 24-bit. The provided 192 kHz version was up-sampled and offers no audible value!version!

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. Perhaps it is because critics ran out of favorable adjectives to use early in his career; certainly it can be said that Peterson played 100 notes when other pianists might have used ten, but all 100 usually fit, and there is nothing wrong with showing off technique when it serves the music. As with Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk, to name two, Peterson spent his career growing within his style rather than making any major changes once his approach was set, certainly an acceptable way to handle one's career. Because he was Norman Granz's favorite pianist (along with Tatum) and the producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and a few are routine, but the great majority are quite excellent, and there are dozens of classics.

Peterson started classical piano lessons when he was six and developed quickly. After winning a talent show at 14, he began starring on a weekly radio show in Montreal. Peterson picked up early experience as a teenager playing with Johnny Holmes' Orchestra. From 1945-1949, he recorded 32 selections for Victor in Montreal. Those trio performances find Peterson displaying a love for boogie-woogie, which he would soon discard, and the swing style of Teddy Wilson and Nat King Cole. His technique was quite brilliant even at that early stage, and although he had not yet been touched by the influence of bop, he was already a very impressive player. Granz discovered Peterson in 1949 and soon presented him as a surprise guest at a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. Peterson was recorded in 1950 on a series of duets with either Ray Brown or Major Holley on bass; his version of "Tenderly" became a hit. Peterson's talents were quite obvious, and he became a household name in 1952 when he formed a trio with guitarist Barney Kessel and Brown. Kessel tired of the road and was replaced by Herb Ellis the following year. The Peterson-Ellis-Brown trio, which often toured with JATP, was one of jazz's great combos from 1953-1958. Their complex yet swinging arrangements were competitive -- Ellis and Brown were always trying to outwit and push the pianist -- and consistently exciting. In 1958, when Ellis left the band, it was decided that no other guitarist could fill in so well, and he was replaced (after a brief stint by Gene Gammage) by drummer Ed Thigpen. In contrast to the earlier group, the Peterson-Brown-Thigpen trio (which lasted until 1965) found the pianist easily the dominant soloist. Later versions of the group featured drummers Louis Hayes (1965-1966), Bobby Durham (1967-1970), Ray Price (1970), and bassists Sam Jones (1966-1970) and George Mraz (1970).

With Respect to Nat In 1960, Peterson established the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted for three years. He made his first recorded set of unaccompanied piano solos in 1968 (strange that Granz had not thought of it) during his highly rated series of MPS recordings. With the formation of the Pablo label by Granz in 1972, Peterson was often teamed with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels Pedersen. He appeared on dozens of all-star records, made five duet albums with top trumpeters (Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry, and Jon Faddis), and teamed up with Count Basie on several two-piano dates. An underrated composer, Peterson wrote and recorded the impressive "Canadiana Suite" in 1964 and has occasionally performed originals in the years since. Although always thought of as a masterful acoustic pianist, Peterson has also recorded on electric piano (particularly some of his own works), organ on rare occasions, and even clavichord for an odd duet date with Joe Pass. One of his rare vocal sessions in 1965, With Respect to Nat, reveals that Peterson's singing voice was nearly identical to Nat King Cole's. A two-day reunion with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown in 1990 (which also included Bobby Durham) resulted in four CDs. Peterson was felled by a serious stroke in 1993 that knocked him out of action for two years. He gradually returned to the scene, however, although with a weakened left hand. Even when he wasn't 100 percent, Peterson was a classic improviser, one of the finest musicians that jazz has ever produced. The pianist appeared on an enormous number of records through the years. As a leader, he has recorded for Victor, Granz's Clef and Verve labels (1950-1964), MPS, Mercury, Limelight, Pablo, and Telarc. (Scott Yanow, AllMusic)

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