Oscar Peterson has long wowed listeners with fast tempos, hot licks, and amazing technique. However, this Verve compilation highlights the softer side of the great pianist, as on Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss." Peterson's version of this classic tune is elegant and inviting--the austere melody is allowed to breathe, and Peterson's playing is understated and dreamy throughout. The soft brushwork of drummer Ed Thigpen also adds nice color to this selection.
Other standout tracks include George Gershwin's "I've Got a Crush on You," a suitably romantic song that features the smoky voice of Bill Henderson. Again, Peterson takes a restrained approach to this tune, allowing Gershwin's beautiful melody to speak for itself. On "Sweet Lorraine," Peterson pays tribute to Nat "King" Cole by singing one of the crooner's most popular tunes himself. Peterson has an impressive voice, too; in fact, he mimics Cole quite well. Nonetheless, it's obviously Peterson's piano playing that stands out. Indeed, all 11 tracks display true warmth and sensitivity.