Classical violinist Itzhak Perlman is not a jazz improviser, so this meeting with the Oscar Peterson Quartet is more a loving tribute to the melodies (ten veteran standards plus two Peterson originals) than a strong jazz date. While Perlman sticks closely to the themes, one's attention focuses much more on Peterson, who had suffered a serious stroke a few years earlier and had been inactive ever since. Peterson sounds healthy in his supportive role, and although it is doubtful if he sweat much during this relaxed music, his apparent comeback is great news. Guitarist Herb Ellis has the most rewarding solos, although his spots are short.
Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Der Freischütz" met with instant success on its premiere in Berlin 1821, rapidly spreading throughout Europe. Audiences identified readily with the folk melodies and hunting character of its Bohemian setting. The story tells of Max's struggle to win Agathe in marriage. The desperation which leads him to trade with the devil in order to regain his lost marksman's skills, finds resolution when fate intervenes to prevent the fatal "free bullet" from striking Agathe, saved by the sacred roses in her bridal coronet. In this Achim Freyer production from the Wüttemberg State Opera, the Huntsman's role is taken by Toni Krämer, with Caterina Ligendza as Agathe, Raili Viljakainen as Ännchen and Wolfram Raub as Samiel, under the bariton of American conductor Dennis Russell Davies.
Duke Ellington's music has long excited Oscar Peterson. So when Pablo, in 1999, decided to assemble a collection of Peterson's interpretations of Ellington favorites, the label had a lot to choose from. Spanning 1967-1986, this collection of Norman Granz-produced Pablo sides reminds us how rewarding a combination Peterson's pianism and the Duke's compositions can be. The most obscure piece on the CD is "Lady of the Lavender Mist," which Ellington recorded in 1947 and quit playing altogether in 1952…
Although the music of this two-LP set was recording at a concert in the Soviet Union, it is a fairly typical recital by pianist Oscar Peterson with no obvious reference to the exotic location. Peterson takes five selections unaccompanied, performs four others as duets with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and adds drummer Jake Hanna to the nine remaining numbers. Other than three originals, all of the music is comprised of veteran standards and, although no real surprises occur, the results are what one would expect from the great Oscar Peterson, who alternates hard swingers with sensitive ballad renditions.
Oscar Peterson was recorded by Verve more often than any other artist. In those years, his groups had the ability to not just keep up with him but become equal partners in creating music that would soar the heights while never forgetting to flat-out swing. Hear him in classic duo, trio, and big-band settings with such stalwarts as Cannonball Adderley, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Sam Jones, Clark Terry, and Ed Thigpen.
A pleasant compilation of Oscar Peterson tracks with Ed Thigpen, Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham, and others sitting in, all anchored by Peterson's classic version of "Fly Me to the Moon," originally written by Bart Howard in 1954.