For some unknown reason, Oscar Peterson's early duo recordings with Ray Brown for Verve were overlooked until the Spanish label Ocium compiled 23 of them made between 1949 and 1951. The prodigious young pianist and his partner are already impressive at this early time in their careers. Peterson's stunning opener is an original called "Debut" (which suggests "Perdido" as its source). "Oscar's Blues" showcases Brown's inventive accompaniment, while another original, "Salute to Garner," is the pianist's impression of Erroll Garner's choppy but swinging style of playing. Yet another Peterson work, "What Is It?" demonstrates the influence of Nat King Cole upon the young keyboardist. Most of the balance of this collection is made up of standards and well-known jazz compositions. Peterson's rapid-fire keyboard technique in "Lover, Come Back to Me" suggests Art Tatum, though his thoughtful, occasionally dissonant (yet very lush) interpretation of "All Things You Are" indicates that he is working to achieve a personal style. Brown's fat tone is in the forefront of the brisk, swinging take of Johnny Hodges' "Squatty Roo," while the bassist's creativity helps drive Peterson in the virtuoso rendition of "Caravan." A CD-ROM program features photos, biographies, and an extensive (though far from complete) Oscar Peterson discography.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden