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 reader experience 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.

390

Oscar Peterson: Oscar's Ballads

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
With Oscar's Ballads, we are reminded that, behind Oscar Peterson's blazing swing—with his furious pace that launched a thousand riffs, not to mention hundreds of imitators—Peterson's solo construction and compositional talent rely on logically appealing and personalized modulations. Underlying his signature technique, Peterson lays down a foundation of harmonic richness and internal chord movement that usually were overlooked as audiences were wowed by his technical mastery and percussive force.

Oscar's Ballads is a compilation from a number of Peterson's previous Telarc CD's recorded during the last decade. The emphasis, of course, is upon his under-emphasized ability to approach a ballad with a maturity of style and a remarkable sensitivity. Some of his recording of ballads may stem from the often-reporded stroke that he suffered in the 1990's, which restricted use of one hand. But the interest in balladic form was always there.

A prolific composer who usually includes one original tune on each album, Peterson wrote all of the songs on Oscar's Ballads from a variety of inspirations. The first track, on which Peterson's piano work is backed lushly by Michel Legrand's orchestra, arose from Peterson's tribute album to his native country, Canada—a project that awaited several decades before its fruition. Similarly, the next track, "If You Only Knew," contains a melodic simplicity cloaking internal movement that entrances the listener. A duo with Benny Green, "If You Only Knew" seems logical enough, but at the point where the melody is expected to resolve, block chords fully expanding upon the potential of the modulations, Peterson suspends the final chords for a moment of inexplicable but felt suspense. Even during the ballads, Peterson swings, as if he can't contain his exuberance, and "If You Only Knew" evolves from a rhythmless exploration to an extroverted romp.

Leading extraordinary trios throughout his career, Peterson still showcases throughout Oscar's Ballads the excellence of his sidemen, including long-time associates Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and Bobby Durham. While it's certainly refreshing and inspirational to hear members from the famous Oscar Peterson trios, members of his more recent groups contribute clearly conceived solos, such as Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen's on "When Summer Comes" or guitarist Lorne Lofsky's elevating work on "Tranquille." It's especially gratifying to hear Peterson play with some of the thirty-something generation's finer hornmen, Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore, on "Ecstasy." Unassuming and conscientious musicians as well, Hargrove and Moore are on their way to developing personalized sounds of their own (although it may be hard for Moore to break out to explore his sound during his current Tonight Show gig).

Oscar's Ballads serves to remind listeners that Peterson's talent is a mile wide and a mile deep. His appeal extends far beyond his prodigious swing and into the harmonic bases of the tunes he performs.

http://www.telarc.com

Track Listing: Harcourt Nights, If You Only Knew, When Summer Comes, Nighttime, Love Ballade, Tranquille, Ecstasy, Peace For South Africa

Personnel: Oscar Peterson, Benny Green, piano; Roy Hargrove, trumpet; Ralph Moore, tenor sax; Ulf Wakenius, Herb Ellis, Lorne Lofsky, guitar; Niels-Henning

Title: Oscar's Ballads | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Telarc Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Walk Against Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Walk Against Wind
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Sing House" CD/LP/Track Review Sing House
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 11, 2017
Read "Signaling" CD/LP/Track Review Signaling
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Sleight Of Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Sleight Of Hand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Pocono Git-Down" CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017