Oscar Peterson

The Song Is You: The Best of the Verve Songbooks

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Pianist Oscar Peterson has made a remarkable number of records through the years and his two songbook series for Verve (each recording features the songs of a different composer) were extensive, to say the least. During 1952-54 he cut ten albums (113 songs) and in 1959 he added nine more records (108 songs), in addition to his regular busy activities. Because these were essentially easy-listening sets with concise interpretations that always kept the melodies of the composers close by, they are not considered Peterson's greatest work but they are enjoyable in their own right. This particular two-CD set has some of the highlights from these marathon projects, most of which (the Gershwin songbooks excepted) had never been out on CD before. Peterson teams up with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Brown on nine numbers from 1952, features Herb Ellis in Kessel's place on 13 other songs and concludes with ten selections from his 1959 trio with Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. In all, 32 of the 221 selections are on this two-fer and, although one hopes that these projects will be completely reissued someday (which would be a mammoth undertaking), this melodic set is quite pleasing.

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