Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

434

Oscar Peterson: An Oscar Peterson Christmas

By

Sign in to view read count
Like a delicious holiday turkey, An Oscar Peterson Christmas is nothing fancy, but easy to digest and something to look forward to every year. The legendary Canadian pianist works his way through fourteen Christmas standards with a quartet featuring Lorne Lofsky on guitar, Dave Young on bass and Jerry Fuller on drums. Guesting on a couple of tracks each are Dave Samuels on vibraphone and Jack Schantz on flugelhorn.

Arranger Rick Wilkins sweetens a few of the tracks with a string ensemble that is for the most part unobtrusive, but adds some colour to what Peterson and his cohorts are doing.

So what features characterize Christmas, Oscar Peterson-style?

Fun

On many tracks, Peterson locks into a lightly swinging, finger-snapping groove that casts even usually melancholic songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” in an upbeat light. He also fashions some of the tunes with nicely arranged introductions, such as a bewitching repetitive figure on “Jingle Bells,” and something straight out the book of Miles Davis on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Solo space for both Peterson and Lofsky is limited, but both make the most of it, especially when they dig into the changes on “Winter Wonderland.”

Reverence

While Peterson and the band sound like they’re having a ball throughout most of the album, the moments of levity are broken up by flashes of seriousness. A leisurely tempo is adopted for the Sinatra chestnut “The Christmas Waltz,” as well as “White Christmas” and this choice results in two moving ballad performances. For many of the album’s traditional carols, Peterson just concentrates on melody and forgoes any improvising. This very un-jazz like approach only really works on “Silent Night” and tends to bog down an album which is primarily upbeat.

On the surface, fun and reverence seem to be contradictory, but both emotions are rooted deeply in the Christmas season. It is a time to draw near to friends and family and to break away from the hustle-and-bustle of the rat race. But, it is also a time to reflect and count blessings. Intentionally or not, Peterson has created an album that captures both emotions.


Track Listing: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; What Child Is This?; Let It Snow; White Christmas; Jingle Bells; I'll Be Home For Christmas; Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; O Little Town of Bethlehem; The Christmas Waltz; Have Yourself A Merry Christmas; Silent Night; Winter Wonderland; Away In A Manger; O Christmas Tree

Personnel: Oscar Peterson - piano; Jack Schantz - flugelhorn; Dave Samuels - vibraphone; Lorne Lofsky - guitar; David Young - bass; Jerry Fuller - drums; string ensemble; Rick Wilkins - conductor

Title: An Oscar Peterson Christmas | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Telarc Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Shifting Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Shifting Borders
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Hakos Trios" CD/LP/Track Review Hakos Trios
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Roots Of Unity" CD/LP/Track Review Roots Of Unity
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "A Thing Called Joe" CD/LP/Track Review A Thing Called Joe
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Contact" CD/LP/Track Review Contact
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 31, 2017