At Chicago's London House, in May of 1973, the trio of Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen made their public debut. How lucky the jazz world is that their performance was preserved for history in this recording, for the 3-P trio would go on to become one of the most celebrated jazz groups of the 70s.
Early live performances from new jazz combos, more often than not, make for hit-and-miss records, with the musicians not yet entirely comfortable playing together. No such problems on this recording; the players are loose, the chemistry is tight, and the result is an extraordinary collection of stellar tracks, even by Peterson's own standards.
Of particular interest is the song "Wheatland." This is actually a Peterson composition, the sixth part of an eight-part suite "Canadiana," which was presented as a concert work in 1964. In his jazz interpretation of his own theme, the song begins as, frankly, little more than pleasant piano noodling, perfect for background music while dining; you can actually hear the clinking of glasses and plates on the recording, as people continued to enjoy their dinner during the performance. The mellow tone continues into Peterson's solo, but within 60 seconds the trio has built the song into a driving, bluesy, hard bop tour-de-force, with Peterson unleashing his peerless chops on the unsuspecting and shell-shocked audience (sadly, the recording fails to pick up the sounds of people's jaws dropping). When Joe Pass begins his solo four minutes later, you realize that you've been holding your breath during Peterson's solo.
"Wheatland" will have you reaching for the "replay" button on your CD player more than once. And it's just the first track on this excellent, essential recording.