SIDE BY SIDE was issued in the 1994, during the heyday of crossover releases. The recording industry began noticing that customers, particularly younger buyers were interested in more than one musical genre and there was a tendency to have the greats of different areas work together to create an interesting collaboration. Classical stars attempted jazz, jazz performers classical, Broadway stars sang the classics, and opera invaded Broadway. Some attempts were more successful than others, and some were banal at best. Of course it's also a matter of taste. What some critics deemed banal has become beloved and some more acclaimed entries have been less appreciated by listeners.
SIDE BY SIDE has the potential to be a great disc with Jazz great Oscar Peterson and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman as its performers. Some disagree as to whether it lives to its promise. Fans of both performers seem to agree that it is not Oscar Peterson at his best nor is it Itzhak Perlman at his best, but still it's a very worthwhile disc. Neither star overshadows the other. Most of the pieces are easy listening/popular pieces that make it a wonderful background collection for work or relaxation. My favorite track is "Nighttime" a piece composed by Peterson that is at one moment tranquil and another exciting. Other enjoyable tracks are "Dark Eyes" "Blue Skies" "Why Think About Tomorrow" (another Peterson composition) and an "On the Trail" except that Grofe might not recognize but is original and entertaining.
As I've read some other reviews of this disc, some claim neither performer is at home in the other's camp. I'm not sure this is correct. Itzhak Perlman's versatility is perhaps greatest strength after his musical ability and he seems to go to great lengths to make sure that music is his central focus, not his personality, and this is true as far as this disc is concerned. Since I am most at home with classical music and performers, I am not an Oscar Peterson expert, but I believe he is at least at home, and if he's not he disguises it well. The disc has an ensemble feel to it and over all makes it satisfying, perfect for a quiet night or a lazy Sunday afternoon.