Oscar Peterson

Jazz in Paris: Oscar Peterson-Stephanie Grapelli Quartet, Vol. 1

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One of the nice things about jazz is the cross-pollination of different players in multiple settings. No one would've thought of pairing swing violinist Stéphane Grappelli and bop pianist Oscar Peterson, for instance, but the match works very well. The pair have expanded into a quartet on this reissue with the aid of double bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Kenny Clarke. The set, recorded in 1973 in Paris, includes a handful of standards, from Pinkard/Tracey/Tauber's "Them There Eyes" to Rodgers & Hart's "Thou Swell." As one might guess, Grappelli is in his own element on upbeat, swinging pieces like "Makin' Whoopee" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home." Peterson likewise joins in the spirit of these pieces, making them the most interesting interpretations on the album. Other material, like the lingering "Flamingo" and "My One and Only Love," are also enjoyable, but seem rather tepid in comparison. The latter composition is also handicapped by its nearly ten-minute length. Peterson and Grappelli end with a nice, bouncy version of "Thou Swell" that brings the whole affair to a satisfying close. Quartet, Vol. 1 isn't a perfect recording, but it is an enjoyable one, showing how much fun it is to pair unlikely musicians in the studio and see what happens.

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