Oscar Peterson

Olympia, Mai 1957, Avril 1960, Février 1961, Mars 1963

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A number of Oscar Peterson's live broadcasts of French concerts have turned up on various live CDs; this edition compiles selections from four separate performances between 1957 and 1963 at the Olympia. Because of the somewhat cavernous sound of this venue, the piano is sometimes less prominent than one would hope for, but the music is consistently rewarding. The earliest date features Peterson with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown in a swinging rendition of "The Man I Love" and adds guests Jo Jones and Roy Eldridge (the latter singing the somewhat-tiresome nursery rhyme medley "School Days"), along with violinist Stuff Smith, who enlivens the proceedings considerably with his slashing attack in an up-tempo "Bugle Call Rag." Ellis, who left Peterson in 1958, returns for a guest appearance in the 1960 show, which is highlighted by an explosive "Daahoud," though the sound quality throughout this set is disappointing. Drummer Ed Thigpen takes Ellis' place on the remainder of the disc. The 1961 tracks begin with Peterson's driving arrangement of "On Green Dolphin Street," which is very similar to the one heard on his excellent The Sound of the Trio, while a pulsating interpretation of Duke Ellington's rarely performed "Band Call," Benny Golson's lush ballad "I Remember Clifford," and the swinging waltz "Where Do We Go From Here" also merit praise. The finale of "Satin Doll" (from 1963) is handicapped by a piano that seems to be losing its tuning somewhat. It is difficult to call this an essential CD with so many other titles available by Oscar Peterson, but his longtime fans will definitely want to purchase this French compilation.

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