Benny Carter

Meets Oscar Peterson

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What would in any other instance be a potent Jazz at the Philharmonic meeting of the minds, the pairing of Oscar Peterson and Benny Carter in the studio turns out to be a neat and trim session of mutual respect between these two titans of American music. Six standards and a blues jam has Peterson deferring to Carter's alto sax in most instances, as the horn takes the lead with Peterson happy to follow. Guitarist Joe Pass seems an afterthought on most of this material, while Toronto bassist Dave Young and British drummer Martin Drew turn in a reliable and steady rhythmic performance. Young is particularly inspired, with big shoes to fill treading footprints of the brilliant Peterson at the time, Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen, and is more than up to the task. Considering his age (almost 80,) Carter sounds splendid, as lyrical as ever, and with a slight hint of vibrato or legato inflections and flourishes. He sure sounds sweet, whether sighing for "Sweet Lorraine," combining cool and animated lines during the simple "It's a Wonderful World," or paralleling "Melancholy Baby" on "Whispering." Only for "Just Friends" does Peterson lead out, and brilliantly as usual, extrapolating his heart out, with Carter in late as Peterson quotes "Moose the Mooch." Pass does congeal with Peterson in distinguished classy phrases for "Baubles, Bangles & Beads" with Carter using upper register embellishments, while Pass is the leader on a balanced read of "If I Had You." The CD ends with a made up "Some Kind of Blues," with Peterson flying as only he can, setting up classic solos from Pass and Carter. This is a sturdy album, spectacular in spots, consistently tasteful, and swinging from top to bottom.

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