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Oscar Pettiford: Gentle Art of Love

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Oscar Pettiford was one of jazz's most lyrical bassists and an exceptional composer. Among his finest pieces was The Gentle Art of Love, first recorded in June 1956. To give you a sense of how widely Pettiford was admired, here are the New York all-stars who was in his band for the session: Ernie Royal and Art Farmer (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Julius Watkins and David Amram (fhr), Gigi Gryce (as,arr), Lucky Thompson (ts,arr), Jerome Richardson (ts,fl), Danny Bank (bar), Tommy Flanagan (p), Oscar Pettiford (b) and Osie Johnson (d).

Producer Creed Taylor became close with Pettiford while Creed was head of A&R at Bethlehem in 1954 and then recorded Pettiford with an orchestra when he moved to ABC-Paramount in 1956. The ABC albums were Oscar Pettiford Orchestra in Hi-Fi Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. As for the cover above, Creed told me years ago that harpest Janet Putnam couldn't make the photo shoot, so ABC-Paramount art director Fran Scott, Tony Scott's wife, came up with an idea to contribute her legs as a “stand in."

Today, let's give a listen to The Gentle Art of Love, which is a terrific entry to the beauty of Oscar Pettiford's music and recordings: 

Here's the first recording of the song, in June 1956, by the Oscar Pettiford Orchestra...



Here's the second recording of the song in July 1956 by accordionist Mat Matthews with Art Farmer (tp), David Amram (fhr), Chase Dean (b-cl), Mat Mathews (accor), Joe Roland (vib), Harry Lookofsky (vln), Joe Puma (g), Oscar Pettiford (b) and Charlie Smith (d)...



Here's the Oscar Pettiford Orchestra at Birdland in May 1957 playing the song, which became the band's theme. It's the opening track (the rest of the live album follows)...



Here's the Oscar Pettiford Quartet in Vienna, Austria, in January 1959, featuring Hans Koller (ts), Attila Zoller (g), Oscar Pettiford (b) and Jimmy Pratt (d)...



Here's Pettiford on TV playing the song with guitarist Attila Zoller in June 1959...



Here's the Art Van Damme Quintet in 1967 in Germany with Art Van Damme (accor), Heribert Thusek (vib), Fred Rundquist (g), Peter Witte (b) and Charly Antolini (d)...



Here's German bassist Johannes Ochsenbauer with saxophonist Harry Sokal on Secret Bass Hits: Ochsenbauer Meets Sokal, featuring Claus Reichstaller (tp,flhrn), Harry Sokal (sop,ts), Tizian Jost (p,vib), Johannes Ochsenbauer (b) and Mario Gonzi (d)...



Here's Paul Dwyer playing for dolphins in 2015...



And here's Andrea Esperti (b), Filippo Galbiati (p) and Giovanni Facecchia (d) this year...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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