More Excellence from O.P.'s Songbook
Tom Schusterbauer | West Bloomfield, Michigan United States | 12/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"O.K.--you could spend much of 2002 reviewing Oscar Peterson's recordings, and still not make a dent. In fact, over the years that has been the knock against him. Some critics have seen his incredible output as quantity over quality, style over substance, an assembly line of jazz recordings. "Slow down," they seem to say, "take a breath. Jazz is feeling. Jazz takes time."On the other hand, in later years,more and more critics have come to a genuine understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of O.P.'s portfolio--especially his work in the 50's, when he and his trios swung their way through the Great American Songbook, paying tribute to the wealth and genius of American song. This is the critical pool I find myself swimming in.Harold Arlen? Not as familiar as Gershwin, Berlin, Cole Porter? Well, try these songs on for size: I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues, Come Rain or Come Shine, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Blues in the Night, Over the Rainbow, and on, and on.
So this tribute didn't come into being merely because Verve and O.P. had exhausted all the American masters. Harlen IS one of the masters. His music merits honor.And this cd serves him well. Actually, this is a combination of two Trio recordings from the 50's--one from 1954, the other from 1959. The earlier recording features Oscar, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Ray Brown on bass. The renditions are a bit extended, allowing these three jazz legends to stretch a bit. Ellis gets in his licks, Brown is playful and steadying on bass, and Oscar, despite the various tempos, swings constantly.The 1959 recording replaces Ellis with the great drummer Ed Thigpen. This trio, with both bass and drums, produces music that is less airy but never heavy, less free but never smothering. Curiously, these tracks are briefer than those on the earlier recording, with most coming in at less than two and-a-half minutes. Not much time for improvising; nevetheless all three players bring a freshness to these standards. We never feel that assembly-line syndrome.As great an album as Night Train? No, but what is? These recordings have much to recommend them. With O.P. at the keyboard and at the helm, both pay delightful, breezy tribute to one of the true giants of American songwriting. The equation is simple: great jazz musicians and great American song equal a must for your collection of jazz and of the true jewels of the American songbook."
ONE OF PETERSON'S PRICELESS SONGBOOK
ALAIN ROBERT | ST-HUBERT,QUÉBEC | 03/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recording a tribute album to the memory of a famous composer is not as easy as one would think.There are many of those on the market,but very few have the quality of those recorded by OSCAR PETERSON.Why you may ask?Mister PETERSON has lived with those songs all his life;he knows how to read them on his keyboard and it shows.Those two tributes albums reunited on 1 cd are ideal for nightcap listening.The sound quality of the early selection being in mono is not first rate,but it's just as enjoyable.Chronogically,HAROLD ARLEN is the last of the great composers of his generation,but certainly not the least talented one,even if BROADWAY often eluded him.Sit down,fix yourself a drink and enjoy.If you like this,you can also buy the 2 cds who offers a good resumé of the whole collection of OSCAR PETERSON's tributes to the composers."
Pleasant-Sounding, Melodic and Timeless
Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue* | CA USA | 05/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although Harold Arlen, a Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee, was not as prolific as George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, his compositions are considered some of the most loved standards of all-time. They are melodic, tuneful and pleasant-sounding. His collaborations with the most creative lyricists, the big names in the songwriting business - Johnny Mercer, Ted Koehler, Dorothy Fields and Ira Gershwin, among many others, resulted in many remarkable songs that are widely interpreted and recorded by jazz musicians and singers.
This 2001 reissue CD contains two albums that Oscar Peterson and his sidemen recorded in the Fifties, the first was recorded in 1954 (Plays Harold Arlen) and the second one was in 1959 (The Harold Arlen Songbook). The interplay among Oscar Peterson (piano), Ray Brown (bass), Herb Ellis (guitar) and Ed Thigpen (drums) is outstanding. They all glow in their respective instruments, they never outshine each other and there's a great teamwork amongst them.
Some of the very best of Harold Arlen's body of work include "Let's Fall In Love," "That Old Black Magic," "Come Rain Or Come Shine," "I've Got The World On A String" and "Over The Rainbow."
If you are a fan of the Great American Songbook particularly the timeless music of Harold Arlen, this is a welcome addition to your collection. It's a perfect listen for winding down and relaxing.
Timeless music to enjoy forever.