Oscar Peterson

Plays the Richard Rodgers Songbook

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In the 1950s and early '60s, producer Norman Granz perfected the songbook approach to album production by having vocalist Ella Fitzgerald interpret large segments of the standard jazz repertoire. In a frankly stated effort to expand the listening audience for this great body of work, Granz also asked Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson to churn out numerous instrumental songbooks albums under his own name with various combos. By the end of the decade, these included Oscar's newly reconfigured trio with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. Like its companion albums, Peterson's Richard Rodgers Song Book was never intended as a set of exercises in soul-searching profundity. Instead what you get are simple, straightforward, well-played appreciations of great American songwriting. Most of the melodies on this album resulted from Rodgers' extraordinary collaborative relationship with lyricist Lorenz Hart, and a couple of Oscar Hammerstein numbers were thrown in as well. Those who enjoy this pleasant offering may wish to investigate Peterson's songbook salutes to Duke Ellington, Vincent Youmans, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, and numerous others.

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