The unifying element of The Composer refers to the fact that Peterson has written all nine compositions, and attempts to give him credit for his writing skills. These pieces have been taken from several albums, recorded between 1974 and 1986, and performed both live and in the studio. Placing Peterson in a big-band setting will perhaps seem odd to those accustomed to hearing the master in small combos. Odd perhaps, but the opening cut, "Jubilation," immediately reassures with its up-tempo drive and spunk. This is followed by "Lady Di's Waltz," a mellow, and somewhat classical piece, appropriately recorded in London. Before one can become too comfortable with the strings, however, "Night Child" and "L'Impossible" utilize a small-band setting that includes guitarist Joe Pass. The 11-minute "Night Child" falls into a relaxed groove, allowing time for extended solos from Peterson, Pass, and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. A classical, mellow mood falls over both "City Lights" and "If You Only Knew," evoking comparisons to '50s third stream jazz. "Place St. Henri" digs deep at jazz roots to come up with a freewheeling piece of ragtime, played solo with verve and pizzazz. While all these pieces sound great, the divergence in styles is somewhat jarring. The album is also, with the exception of "Jubilation" and "Place St. Henri," pretty mellow coming from a master of swing and bop. Fans will probably not complain, though. They will be more than happy that The Composer singles out Peterson's considerable writing skills.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.