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The greatest jazz piano album? It's more than that!
Mark Blackburn | Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada | 07/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""I have believed for many years that Oscar Peterson is not only the greatest pianist in jazz today, but the greatest it has ever known. The style is drawn from many sources including Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, George Shearing, James P. Johnson, and others. Oscar's awareness of jazz history is so great that I doubt there's anything in the tradition of jazz piano that he hasn't encompassed in his work. Oscar is the great eclectic of jazz piano. Bach was a great eclectic. History cares less who did something first than it does who did it best. Oscar does all the things his predecessors did, but better. Consider the Tatum influence. Oscar plays the Tatum runs as fast as Tatum did. And he plays them with more power, more muscle, and above all with more swing. Oscar's dynamic sense is greater than Tatum's . . . . despite the musical wonder of Tatum's playing, his work, for me, lacked the emotional depth and stylistic range that Oscar displays here." (From the Gene Lees' album liner notes of 1968.)In its July 2002 death notice for Ray Brown, Time Magazine noted that Oscar Peterson's trio (with Brown) is generally considered the greatest in jazz history. Not surprisingly then Oscar's rare solo recordings are easily overlooked within the huge discography of Oscar's trio recordings most of them still in print (Amazon.com lists 210 of these).Peterson's only other solo album "Tracks" with its odd assortment of lesser standards and seldom-played tunes can't help but be eclipsed by the offerings here on "My Favorite Instrument." And until something better comes along, this for many of us will remain our favorite, solo, piano recording.In fact, one could make the case that everything about this CD is the best: The pianist, obviously, is at the very peak of his powers---one minute swinging as only he can and then, alternately, with his sublime pedal work, launching into the most heart-rendingly beautiful, pensively-shaded variations on great standards, most notably Little Girl Blue. Oscar's take on the Dick Rodgers masterpiece must surely be as definitive for pianists as Sinatra's version of the song is for vocalists. As Gene Lees put it: "If I were told that I could have only one track out of the album, and all the rest would be destroyed, this is the one I'd select." You can almost feel Peterson's radiant enthusiasm as he delves into old favorites on his newly-discovered piano-of-choice----the largest Bosendorfer then made in Germany.The sound engineering by Hans G. Brunner-Schwer (a German who would eventually head his own record companies) is astonishing, even by today's standards. It's also a testament to German recording equipment, including German microphones (various) that gradually took over every major recording studio on the planet in the intervening 30 years. (Sinatra always insisted on using a Neumann; enough said.) Still, it makes you wonder about American recording studio engineering in the 1960s; by comparison, all our favorite Bill Evans albums sound like products of the 50s.One also wonders---is this as good as solo piano will ever get? Even as incremental improvements keep coming on the technical side: We notice Amazon.com now offers a Japanese, audiophile version of "My Favorite Instrument" enhanced by 25-bit technology. (A question for the experts with access to jillion dollar stereos: Will the rest of us be able to detect the difference on our portable CD players?)Any superlatives attached to this CD are unlikely to top the following quote-within-a-quote from the conclusion of Gene Lees' original liner notes: "I am tempted to say this is the greatest jazz piano album ever made. And maybe it is. But it's more than that. Said one fascinated musician on hearing it, 'This surpasses jazz.' So it does.""
On this earth in my lifetime!
Sharon Mccrory | Big Water, UT United States | 02/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I,ve been listening to jazz and particularly piano since early childhood in the 30's. There were records in the house, and my folks took me along sometimes. One Pianist said, The kid really LISTENS! (and Fats Waller once kissed my mothers' hand).I had lots of Tatum in my teens. Then, I heard Oscar Peterson on the car radio , playing Tenderly. He has been my hero ever since. His powress is by now taken for granted. Listen to the feeling he expresses on the first track. No one plays the piano with more emotion. The number of times i have heard him in person have been peaks in my life; he dazzles, he swings, he shows off, he's lyrical, and he can really make you feel. i agree he is the greatest ever any way you listen."
Every Moment Is So Remarkable
Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue* | CA USA | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""This is an album I consider long overdue. Only in a solo album would Oscar be able to show the full scope of his playing. Tatum felt the rhythm section got in the way. They do, too. The piano, for good or ill, is a self-contained instrument. Oscar plays superbly, of course, in a rhythm section context and he has always employed first-rate rhythm sections. But anyone who hasn't heard him playing alone cannot know how gigantic his playing is. This record makes that possible." ~ Gene Lees, Liner Notes, 1968 ~
Oscar Peterson's "My Favorite Instrument: Exclusively For My Friends" is one of the most irresistible jazz piano solos of all-time! The renowned jazz pianist takes a seat at his favorite instrument, a Bosendorfer grand piano and plays a roster of ballads, standards and jazz favorites from the eternal charms of "Someone To Watch Over Me" to the lilting melody and infectious beat on the final performance, "Take The 'A' Train." This CD is a piece of musical treasure and an absolute treat to the ears of jazz piano connoisseurs to be enjoyed through all the years.
To me, I would consider Peterson as the Chopin in jazz piano. Both improvised to attain the most beautiful effect that is almost synonymous with sheer perfection. His articulate touch on the ivories, lyrical and poetic license and the spontaneous joy of improvisation are the qualities Mr. Peterson possesses to make him a living legend and an icon of great jazz music. Likewise, he is a recipient of the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Bosendorfer Piano Company in Vienna, Austria. Some of the most famous owners of this brand of piano were classical masters and favorites of mine, Franz Lizst, Artur Rubinstein, Felix Mendelssohn, Gustav Mahler and Johann Strauss. And not to mention George Shearing, Leonard Bernstein and Andre Previn.
With this CD, every moment is so remarkable!
Stirring Moment: "Little Girl Blue" - an achingly beautiful piece. To me, this is the crème de la crème from these gleaming performances. It is one gorgeous piece that will truly attract your ears. This alone is worth the price of the CD.
Magical Moment: "Someone To Watch Over Me" - one of the most popular standards. This is a masterpiece of elegance and charm.
Emotional Moment: "Body And Soul" - a timeless classic that is often recorded by famous jazz artists. He plays this tune with sensitivity and style like no other.
Shining Moment: "Bye Bye Blackbird" - he plays like a shining star that glows forever.
Poignant Moment: "Who Can I Turn To?" - his mood here is pensive and melancholy.
Glorious Moment: "Take The 'A' Train" - he gives this Billy Strayhorn tune the glorious interpretation it so deserves and makes it a perfect jazz piece for the finale.
Treat yourself to one of the must-have basic Oscar Peterson CDs such as this and create some wonderful memories with it. You'll be glad you did.