The first album on this new compilation (tracks 1-6) on the MP3 download is Very Tall which was recorded on September 15 & 18, 1961 for the verve label. The personnel were Oscar Peterson; Milt Jackson vibraphone; Ed Brown double bass & Ed Thigpen drums.
Tracks 7-13 are On the Town which was recorded live on July 1-5 1958 for the verve label. The musicians were Oscar Peterson; Herb Ellis guitar & Ray Brown double bass.
Plays Count Basie was recorded on December 27, 1955 for the Clef label and the musicians were Oscar Peterson; Ray brown double bass; Herb Ellis guitar & Buddy Rich drums. Tracks 14-23.
Tracks 24-28 come from At the Shakespearian Festival recorded live on August 8, 1956 for the Verve label. The musicians were Oscar Peterson; Ray Brown double bass & Herb Ellis guitar.
This 2 CD set provides a wonderful mix of live and studio recordings. The different line up of musicians provides for some lively interpretations. Crisp transfers make this a great value set.
The oldest recordings in this compilation feature the trio which featured Herb Ellis and Ray Brown. Three tracks, split across the two CDs, were recorded at Carnegie Hall in September 1952, at the beginning of the twelfth national tour by JATP. Next is the B side of the Verve album of the August 1956 Stratford Shakespearean Festival, which is considered by many to be the finest album recorded by that trio. When guitarist Herb Ellis left he was not replaced; instead drummer Gene Gammage, who’s present on the November 1958 recording of “My Fair Lady”, was included.
The two later albums were recorded within a month of one another, both with Ed Thigpen on drums. “Porgy and Bess” was recorded in October 1959, and “Swinging Brass” in November. Arrangements for the latter album were produced by Russell Garcia, who also conducted the 11-piece backing orchestra. Oscar Peterson was a stylish pianist, and this quality shines throughout the compilation. He was shrewd in his choice of accompanists, with the result that the trio recordings were more than the sum of their parts. I hadn’t heard “Swinging Brass” before, and was bowled over by the arrangements, which clearly were designed to complement the pianist, rather than render him subservient, as might have been the case.
on 19 March 2014
Oscar Peterson had a way of taking a great tune and making it sound simple, better, and fresher. He offers you the tune in its naked form - he's rejoicing in the melody, and that's what you're left with - the pleasure that a simple line of notes can bring you.
My Fair lady and Porgy and Bess are miles apart in musical repertoire but Peterson treats with the same reverence and blesses them with his ability of musical celebration. It's beautiful.
The bonus of the live tracks makes this a no-brainer - the energy you feel, and the sheer exuberance of a group of musicians that no longer seem to have to think about what they are doing or playing. They simply communicate without complication.