"My first exposure to Oscar Peterson was through this album(in LP format),a gift given to me from my high school music teacher in the 70's. I waited for years for it to arrive on CD,and it's been well worth the wait. Only Oscar's 2nd solo album("My Favorite Instrument" being the 1st),this collection showcases the pianist's versatility in a way that his trio recordings do not. Unfettered by other musicians,Oscar is free to explore his wonderful and complex ideas and harmonies. Oscar's breathtaking technique is on display here,but if you think that that's all there is to his playing,this album will change your mind. "Django" and "A Child is Born" both reveal the quiet,subdued side of Peterson,with beautiful results. "If I Should Lose You" finds Oscar combining his technical prowess with a marvelous lyricism and emotional expression. On "Give Me the Simple Life",Peterson is in full-flight,swinging as hard as any pianist ever has. I defy you to listen to this cut and NOT tap your foot. As a pianist myself,I listen to cuts like "Honeysuckle Rose",with it's awesome combination of runs and rhythm,and just shake my head--it's enough to make me want quit the piano and just be content to listen to this genuis! Well,I've just about run out of adjectives to describe Oscar's playing on this album. If you love jazz piano,this is a must-have for your collection."
Peterson knows his Debussy
MICHAEL MCCANLES | WAUWATOSA, WISCONSIN USA | 08/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, I want to second Kent Stallard's enthusiasm for this album. I too came to know it in its vinyl form, and also waited a long time to see it in digital format. My main interest is in classical music, and I play, too, mainly Bach and Debussy. In the quieter pieces I can hear chordal progressions that only Debussy could have composed, something that occurs also in the music of 1940s lounge pianist Frankie Carle. So I suspect that the Debussy connection has had some viability with jazz pianists, though I don't know either the field or the history all that well. Tracks was the first thing by Peterson I ever heard, and like Stallard, I too have been disappointed when comparing that disk with some of the trio performances. Though I appreciate Chick Corea--in some of his reincarnations--and McCoy Tyner, Tracks seems to me an inexhaustible musical experience."
S. Hawkins | New York, NY | 10/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oscar Peterson actually slows down from time to time on this album, and the results are quite refreshing.I bought this album about 6 years ago, and I find myself coming back to it again and again and still hearing new things. Whatever reservations I have about his tendency toward show instead of substance are put to rest when I listen to this album. It starts off with something of a technical romp in "Give Me the Simple Life," but immediately he settles into a fairly sedate and thoughtful rendition of "Basin Street Blues." Nearly every other track follows the Basin Street route - "A Child Is Born" is the gem of this CD. It's a gorgeous rendition.Like I hinted at earlier, this album really changed the way I looked at Oscar Peterson. For me this album showed me that he wasn't an Art Tatum copy, nor was he a horrendous show-off (well, not ALL the time). With that, I was able to go back and enjoy albums like Night Train.So get this album. I'm biased, but for me it's his best."
S J Buck | Kent, UK | 08/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the few Oscar Peterson solo Piano records. Norman Granz and Duke Ellington had been trying to pursade Oscar to record a solo Piano album for quite a while and in November 1970 this was the result.
The man responsible for producing the album was Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and he deserves a lot of credit. Its one of the best sounding solo Piano records ever produced. The moment you hear the first track you will begin to wonder how on earth all other Piano albums sound so bad in comparison. What does Hans know that other producers don't?!!
As for the playing, well this is Oscar Peterson at the absolute height of his powers. The opening track will leave you stunned: Amazing locked hands chord work, wonderful single line improvisations. I'd love to see it written out, the speed and dexterity is unbelievable. In a similar but different vein the ironically titled "A Little Jazz Exercise" is another virtuoso display, incorporating Oscars amazing fast stride playing. Still this is what you'd expect from Oscar.
What you might not expect is his marvellous performances of A Child is Born, Dancing on the Ceiling and Django. These are beautifully played and shows a side of Oscars playing that is frequently ignored because of his amazing technique. OK in some of the solos there are quite a few notes, but the reading of the tunes are restrained and subtle. These tracks are also great demonstrations of the wonderful sound of the Piano on this album.
For me this is one of the 5 best Oscar Peterson records you can get - an absolutely essential purchase. "