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.
Most musicians when asked to give a list of their favorite composers will usually have at the top, or near the top of the list George Gershwin. They feel that Gershwin wrote in such a fashion that it gives them the most room for improvisation. You will always find that when people are asked to do albums of various composers, invariably Gershwin is on the list. Buddy DeFranco has recorded many albums for me and for two years has been insisting that he be allowed to do a Gershwin album, and this is it…
The first six selections on this CD are from a long-out-of-print LP featuring the brilliant clarinetist Buddy DeFranco with the Oscar Peterson Quartet (Peterson's trio plus drummer Louie Bellson). While the six selections are all standards, DeFranco and Peterson produce plenty of fireworks with the majority of the numbers being taken up-tempo. DeFranco sounds flawless on clarinet, making it sound so easy to play lightning-fast runs; few other clarinetists have ever come close. Recommended.
This album is quite unusual. Recorded shortly after Nat King Cole's death, pianist Oscar Peterson takes vocals on all but one of the dozen selections, sounding almost exactly like Cole. Peterson, who rarely ever sang, is very effective on the well-rounded program, whether being backed by a big band (arranged by Manny Albam) on half of the selections or re-creating both the spirit of the Nat King Cole Trio and his own group of the late '50s during a reunion with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown.