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What's Up? - The Very Tall Band (Live)

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In 1961, pianist Oscar Peterson, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and bassist Ray Brown (along with drummer Ed Thigpen) recorded the fine LP Very Tall. In 1998, the threesome got together — this time with the young Karriem Riggins on drums — to record a show at the Blue Note, resulting in the release of The Very Tall Band (Live At the Blue Note) the following year. What’s Up? draws material from that same club date. If you put a mic in front of these jazz giants, you know you’ll capture the essence of swing, but the group doesn’t use standards simply as launching pads for jamming: they infuse the songs’ themes with great feeling as well. And it all goes down easy because the group plays with an open, relaxed quality that's free of fussiness. A jaunty take on Johnny Hodges’s “Squatty Roo” finds Jackson and Peterson playing solos that will make any fan smile, while a version of the old Fletcher Henderson nugget, “Soft Winds,” gets a cool modern blues reading. The album ends on a high note with a rendition of “The More I Need You” featuring lovely keyboard harmonies from Peterson and Jackson grooving with the subtle mastery he’s known for.


Born: 15 August 1925 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol, Art Tatum, Peterson's speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo were amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, O.P. was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style did not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing formed during the...
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