Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington [Compilation]

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Duke Ellington's music has long excited Oscar Peterson. So when Pablo, in 1999, decided to assemble a collection of Peterson's interpretations of Ellington favorites, the label had a lot to choose from. Spanning 1967-1986, this collection of Norman Granz-produced Pablo sides reminds us how rewarding a combination Peterson's pianism and the Duke's compositions can be. The most obscure piece on the CD is "Lady of the Lavender Mist," which Ellington recorded in 1947 and quit playing altogether in 1952. But most of the gems that Peterson interprets are well-known standards; even those with only a casual interest in jazz are likely to be familiar with "Cotton Tail," "Satin Doll," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "In a Sentimental Mood," and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good." Not all of the songs were actually written or cowritten by the Duke: "Take the A Train" is a Billy Strayhorn composition, while "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" was written by his son Mercer Ellington. But all of the songs were, at some point, in the Duke's repertoire, and even the songs that he didn't write himself were written or cowritten by those he employed. This CD isn't the last word on Peterson playing the Ellington songbook: He was playing Ellington's music long before signing with Pablo, and continued to perform it long after leaving the label in 1986. But it's a fine collection that Peterson's admirers will enjoy.

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