Search - Oscar Peterson :: On the Town

On the Town
Oscar Peterson
On the Town
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

On the Town captures the Oscar Peterson trio at its zenith, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis joining the pianist on this 1958 live recording from Toronto's Town Tavern. The three had been together for five y...  more »


Larger Image

CD Details

All Artists: Oscar Peterson
Title: On the Town
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/1958
Re-Release Date: 1/8/2007
Album Type: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Swing Jazz, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 731454383424, 0731454383424, 731454383424

On the Town captures the Oscar Peterson trio at its zenith, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis joining the pianist on this 1958 live recording from Toronto's Town Tavern. The three had been together for five years, and Ellis's imminent departure would lead Peterson to redefine the group in more conventional terms, with drums in place of guitar. As this recording demonstrates, the group had achieved a stunning level of cohesion. The three had a collective knack for finding different approaches within a single tune, and Ellis and Brown worked in tandem to support and prod Peterson's explosive flights. On up-tempos such as the opening "Sweet Georgia Brown" and Dizzy Gillespie's "The Champ," the effect is extraordinary, with Peterson generating solos of astonishing momentum and multidimensional complexity. Ellis's solos are a distinct pleasure in themselves. He adds an expressive twang to tunes like "Easy Listenin' Blues," and his more direct, lyrical playing presents an effective contrast to Peterson's knottier style. This Verve Master Edition adds five previously unreleased tracks to the original LP, material originally slated for a second LP. It stretches the CD to a generous 77 minutes and includes a superb medium-tempo version of Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" that's highlighted by Peterson's restrained single-note lines. The improved audio of the 24-bit remastering, however, is a mixed blessing. While the instruments gain new luster, the bar chatter does, too, reaching distracting levels on some of the ballads and bass solos. --Stuart Broomer

Similarly Requested CDs


CD Reviews

Poor sound quality=difficult listen
unclejam | Columbus, OH United States | 03/08/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The performances are great on this disc, but it was recorded live in a jazz club/bar. It surely sounds authentic, and if that is what you want, here it is. However, this also means tinkling glasses, people talking, etc... I found it distracting at times.There is no drummer, which lets you listen to the details better. Again, if you don't mind the "club" ambience, it is a great disc. Oscar Peterson is good stuff, but this is not his best disc. Get it if you want to hear his trio live."
One of Oscar's best (but let's hear more Oscar, less Town)
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 06/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In a recent article selecting the 50 greatest jazz piano albums of all time, Down Beat magazine used "On the Town" to represent Oscar Peterson. An acceptable but inadequate choice (the same was true for Art Tatum who, like Oscar, was represented once on the list, while Herbie Hancock albums occupied no fewer than three of the 50 spots!). For Oscar, the absolute minimal requirement is two albums--one representing the first trio without drums and a second representing a later trio with drums. For the first great trio there are three equally compelling candidates: "At Stratford" (1956); "At the Concertgebouw" (1957); "On the Town" (1958). The first two are a trifle more heated and unbridled (how that's possible is beyond explanation let alone comprehension); the third has slightly better "presence" as far as the instruments are concerned (but see the caveat below).

For the later trios with drums, "At the London House" on Verve is a good candidate but in retrospect sounds tame compared to the mid-to-late sixties recordings Peterson made in Germany for Hans George Brunner-Schwer's MPS label (since purchased by Verve). I always recommend "Exclusively for My Friends: The Lost Tapes" because it offers the listener two equally swinging rhythm sections and no-holds-barred Peterson with both. Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen are slightly lighter, more attuned to each other and Oscar; Sam Jones and Bobby Durham are dedicated to the one thing they do best: laying down a deep and unshakeable groove.

If two will do you, fine; otherwise, it's time to look for a Peterson solo album ("My Favorite Instrument") or a session featuring major jazz stars fueled by the pianist's inspiring accompaniment ("At Montreux" with Eddie Lockjaw Davis or "Sonny Stitt Sits In with Oscar Peterson").

[Caveat: Much has been made of the audible conversations on Bill Evans' revered Vanguard sessions from 1961. Believe me, that background noise is a whisper compared to the intrusive, distracting conversations during the trio's playing on this recording. I have no problem with Oscar's own "singing," but when the crowd all but drowns out "Moonlight in Vermont," clearly making the ballad secondary to their own chit-chat, that's another matter. I have a sneaking suspicion that Verve deliberately went with the title--"On the Town"--and the extra chatter to give the listener a "you are there" experience. The same trick was recently used on Wynton Marsalis's "Live at the House of Tribes," but there at least you've got a trumpet, saxophonist, and drummer to cut through the gratuitous din. What's equally remarkable is that Oscar would permit any talking whatsoever! I first caught him in concert in the '50s, at a club for the first time in the late '60s, and you couldn't hear a pin drop unless it was Oscar's. In fact, on each occasion an announcement was made to the audience that no talking would be permitted during the performance. So how do you explain this occasion?]"
Crystal clear sound from this version of the Trio
David Conklin | Albuquerque, NM USA | 01/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Probably should be 4.5 stars (because of the audience noise). I am very pleased with the sound quality of this new (2007) CD, originally recorded in 1958. I've owned the better-known Stratford Shakepearean Festival CD (recorded in 1956 with this same Trio) for several years, but have always been disappointed in its "muddy" sound quality. This one sounds much, much better (despite the backgound noises from the crowd). This CD is a good value, with several "bonus tracks" from the same nightclub performance that are just as good as the songs chosen for the original album. I enjoy the ambiance of this recording, despite the background noise. Maybe this doesn't reach the classic status of the Stratford album, but I actually like it better because of the clearer sound AND the absence of the long, loud applause captured on the Stratford recording (and some of Peterson's other live recordings). Another nice, subtle thing about this CD is that there is a pause of a few seconds between the end of the last "original" song and the first bonus track--I wish other CDs with bonus tracks were designed this way--the pause allows a better feel for the composition of the original album--it works for me, anyway! Certainly this CD is recommended for Peterson (and Herb Ellis and Ray Brown) fans.