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Oscar Peterson: Solo

C. Michael Bailey By

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Canada's (and our) treasure...

It is gratifying when previously unreleased material from a consistently fine artist like Oscar Peterson reaches the digital impression of the compact disc. Impresario Norman Granz was fortunate to have the talent of Mr. Peterson on his Clef, Verve, and Pablo labels over the period of 1950 to 1986. Having appeared on hundreds of recordings might beg the question, "Does the world need one more Oscar Peterson?" The answer is a resounding "YES," considering that the present recording is solo O.P. and recorded at the height of his considerable powers in the early 1970s.

Solo is a combination of two sets Peterson performed abroad in Baalbek, Lebanon on August 17, 1972 and Amsterdam November 4th of the same year. His playing is orchestral and, at times, almost overpowering. An early disciple of Art Tatum, Peterson became the closest thing to an equal to that master. This writer often holds Peterson in higher esteem as Peterson was slightly less apt to show off technique for technique’s sake, but that is open to debate. Peterson’s playing here is uniformly excellent, as he plows through is minimum daily requirement of standards and original blues. "Yesterdays" totally betrays Peterson’s classical training, containing note blocks reminiscent of Chopin’s Nocturnes. "Makin’ Whoopee" is a bouncing stride piano dance and "Take the "A" Train a bright mirror held up to reflect the phosphorescent Ellington/Strayhorn. Later, on "Satin Doll," Peterson swings with grace and proficiency. Many, many notes are expended and absolutely none are wasted.

Now in his late 70s, Oscar Peterson was in his late 40s at the time of these recordings. They are an honor to him and Norman Granz, who decided to record him so fully (too fully, according to uninformed critics). To say O.P. is one of the greatest jazz pianists is stating the obvious. To still have the master with us is grace and fortune. To have this recording is our dumb good luck.

Track Listing: Yesterdays; Makin' Whoopee; Who Can I Turn To; Take The "A" Train; Body And Soul; Blues Of The Prairies; Corcovada; Blues Etude; Autumn Leaves; Here's That Rainy Day; Sweet Georgia Brown; Satin Doll; Mirage; Hogtown Blues. (Total Time: 55:21).

Personnel: Oscar Peterson

Title: Solo | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

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