Home » Jazz Articles » Oscar Peterson: Unmistakable

84

Album Review

Oscar Peterson: Unmistakable

By

Sign in to view read count
Oscar Peterson: Unmistakable
The first thing Unmistakable on this recording is the pianist: it can only be the incomparable Oscar Peterson, who, if not the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived, is certainly among the top four or five. This scrapbook, however, is not, strictly speaking, a performance by Peterson but a "re-performance," taken from DVDs of three concerts—one from the mid-'70s, the others from the early '80s—and re-recorded using the Zenph Sound Innovations re-performance system. Peterson's original performances are electronically and digitally enhanced to theoretically produce the clearest and most natural recorded sound that is humanly possible (at least to this point in time).

Tracks 1-8 on this splendid album are presented in Zenph re-performance stereo, then repeated (tracks 9-16) in binaural stereo, "the ultimate headphone experience," so the liner notes say. What exactly is a Zenph re-performance? Rather than try to explain it in layman's terms, here is what Zenph founder John Q. Walker writes:
Zenph Studios takes audio recordings and turns them back into live performances, precisely replicating what was originally recorded. The Zenph software- based process extracts every musical nuance of a recorded performance, and stores the data in a high-resolution digital file. These re-performance files contain every detail of how every note in the composition was played, including pedal actions, volume, and articulation—all with micro-second timings.


Further:
The re-performance files are played back on a real acoustic piano [in this case a Boesendorfer Imperial, which Peterson preferred] fitted with sophisticated computers and hardware, letting the listener 'sit in the room' as if he or she were there when the original recording was made. The re-performance is then recorded afresh, using the latest microphones and recording techniques, to modernize monophonic or poor- quality recordings of great performances.
Whether you follow that or not, what is "unmistakable" is that someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure the sound on this superb "re-performance" is unerring and unblemished.

Having listened to the stereo and binaural stereo versions of Peterson's solo-piano voyages, I must confess that I really can't tell the difference. My guess is that "the ultimate headphone experience" requires "the ultimate headphones" (mine are mid-level Sennheiser 457s) and the kind of ears that are able to discern and appreciate minuscule changes in recorded sound—in other words, the kind of ears I've never had. While there's no doubting that the Zenph sound is remarkable, it is best appreciated by audiophiles, for whom I suppose this and other albums like it are designed. On the other hand, this is Oscar Peterson, playing piano as only he could, and if the sound is immaculate, so much the better.

Track Listing

Body and Soul; Back Home Again in Indiana; The Man I Love; Who Can I Turn To; When I Fall in Love; Duke Ellington medley (Take the “A” Train/In a Sentimental Mood)/C Jam Blues/Lady of the Lavender Mist/(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings/Satin Doll/Caravan); Con Alma; Goodbye.

Personnel

Oscar Peterson: piano.

Album information

Title: Unmistakable | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sony Music

Post a comment about this album


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Calasanitus
Leon Foster Thomas
Playing With Standards
Seppe Gebruers
Heavy Hitters
The Heavy Hitters
Made in Miami
Camilo Valencia/Richard Bravo

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.