Oscar Peterson

Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite

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Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite is hardly a typical Oscar Peterson album. This time, the Canadian pianist doesn't play any standards and doesn't take a bop-oriented approach; in fact, Trail of Dreams isn't a straight-ahead jazz album but rather combines jazz with elements of pop, classical, and symphonic music. Recorded in April 2000, this CD finds Peterson joining forces with Michel Legrand, who conducts a lush 24-piece string orchestra. Legrand is famous for composing gems like "You Must Believe in Spring" and "Once Upon a Summertime," but the French icon doesn't do any composing on this album; his role is strictly that of a conductor/arranger, and all of the writing was done by Peterson himself. The compositions were meant to paint an aural picture of Peterson's native Canada; they were inspired by places that range from Quebec in eastern Canada to British Columbia in the western part of the country. The music is generally likable, and even though Peterson doesn't have a great deal of room to stretch out and improvise, he manages to get in some decent solos here and there. Nonetheless, Trail of Dreams never pretends to be a hardcore bop date, which is why it's pointless to judge the CD by bop standards. This release isn't recommended to bop snobs, although more broad-minded listeners will find it to be an interesting, if imperfect, departure for the veteran pianist.

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