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Plays Pretty

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iTunes Review

The Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson — like the great Art Tatum, one of his biggest influences — was known for his blinding speed at the keyboard. But on this recording from the early 1950s, Peterson plays a set of 1930s ballads that brings out his lyrical side. Backed by the rhythm section of Irving Ashby on guitar and Ray Brown on bass, Peterson lends his distinctive touch to eight gems. The album opens with “You Go to My Head” and it’s immediately clear that Peterson isn’t bored with the old warhorse. Countless cocktail pianists have slept their way through this tune, but not Peterson; his exquisite hesitations, fills and voicings imbue the song with great feeling. A version of “There’s a Small Hotel,” by Rodgers and Hart, hints at stride while capturing the song’s sense of romance. The trio plays another Rodgers and Hart classic, “Blue Moon,” at a sweet, slow tempo, and the dreamy interpretation conjures up a cool breeze on a warm summer night. Plays Pretty maintains an easy going vibe throughout: it’s a nice change of pace to hear this lightning-fast player in mellow mode.

Customer Reviews

Great music but incomplete

This album has exquisite versions of eight American standard songs by the great Oscar Peterson, and is beautifully performed. However, the exact same eight songs are on Oscar's album "Pastel Moods" plus seven more gems -- nearly twice as much music for only a bit more than the price of this album.

Oscar Peterson Plays Pretty

Oscar never fails to play standards in a "non standard" way. His creativity matched with his skill make him one of the truly great jazzmen of this or any time. All of us miss him.

Plays Pretty

It's impossible to imrprove on this marvelous pianist even when he slows down to submit these great standards.


Born: August 15, 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...
Full Bio