Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oscar Peterson: Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington (2000)

(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )

Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington

These studio and live recordings culled from albums Peterson cut for Norman Granz between 1967 and 1986 aren’t the best place to begin appreciating Duke Ellington, but they’re a good place to start appreciating the jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. The two solo performances, “Lady of the Lavender Mist” and “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good),” reveal Peterson at his most whole, the technician and the musician within him submitting to each other out of mutual respect and out of love for the songs. As for those who simply enjoy hearing Peterson play at breakneck speed, there’s a 3:12-version of “Cotton Tail.” The most exciting moment, though, comes at the end, when Ellington himself introduces special-guest Peterson to a Hollywood Bowl crowd and the entire fifteen-piece ensemble takes the “A” train. Rating: Four main stems out of five.

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