Peterson hits heights in Japan
Freedom Song:The Oscar Peterson
Big Four in Japan O82
Oscar Peterson Quartet
Sampling Oscar Peterson at any stage of his career is a treat<as a young pianist when he was being hailed as the next Art Tatum, during the ensuing years when he reached his full potential and today, though his once-powerful left hand has been left virtually useless after a stroke several years ago.
But if you had to choose a period to find the Canadian jazz giant in full flower, you1d be sure to opt for the middle years, which is when the then-56-year-old Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Niels- Henning Orsted Pedersen and drummer Martin Drew were recorded live at a concert in Tokyo.
The 1982 performance has been transferred from vinyl to two compact discs that, combined, offer nearly two hours of pure pleasure.
The electricity generated by Peterson would light all of Nevada County for a week as evidenced by OP1s first three selections: the moody 3’Round Midnight,² a captivating 3Watch What Happens² with a sly quote from 3Jersey Bounce² and Bill Evans1 3Waltz For Debbie.²
It1s then Pass1 turn with an a capella rendering of 3Easy Living,² followed by a fierce duet involving Pass and Pedersen on the appropriately titled 3Move.²
That sets the scene for a medley of two of Peterson1s more ambitious compositions, the moving, gospel-flavored 3Hymn To Freedom² and the dynamic 3The Fallen Warrior² that is marked by a thoughtful Pass solo and Peterson1s intensive, flourishing finish. A tip of the topper to Nat Cole comes in the form of a peaceful version of 3Sweet Lorraine.² Peterson staple 3You Look Good To Me,² highlighted by Pedersen1s fiery solo, ends the first set.
3Now1s the Time,² a Charley Parker blues that allows solo space all around, opens the second set; and a Peterson original, 3The Cakewalk,² that sheds its turn-of-the-last-century origins in favor of a bop treatment, closes the concert. But between the musical bookends, there are such goodies as Pedersen1s burning composition 3Future Child² and two more Peterson compositions, 3Mississagua Rambler,² a bop blues that features Peterson and Pass playing cat and mouse, and 3Nigerian Marketplace² with its compelling odd-time signature feeling.
3Night Child,² a personal favorite of the pianist, and the ballad medley of 3Emily² and 3Tenderly² complete the double-disc delight.
n sum, another jewel in the Peterson Quartet1s crown.
Cam Miller is a freelance jazz critic in Lake Wildwood. You may write to him care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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