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Perfect Peterson: The Best of the Pablo and Telarc Recordings

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Album Review

While it's true that Oscar Peterson compilations appeared with regularity form the early '60s on, only a few of them — as with most recording artists — have any real merit. This two-disc collection from the Concord Music Group's Telarc label, is one of them. Appearing less than a year before his death, this compilation concentrates on recordings issued from the '50s through the middle of the '80s on Dizzy Gillespie's Pablo label, and those made for Telarc between 1990 and 2000. Many live dates are included here from both labels, including "Tenderly" with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown at the J.A.T.P. concerts in Japan; the trio dates at Zardi's in 1955 ("How High the Moon"), in Copenhagen with Joe Pass, Stéphane Grappelli, and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen in 1979, and Mickey Roker in 1979 ("Nuages"). There's the beautiful duet reading of Juan Tizol's "Caravan" with Gillespie in the studio in 1974, as well as the title track form the Nigerian Marketplace album but recorded live in Japan in 1982. The biggest complaint is that there isn't anything here actually from that classic album on this set. Disc two begins with the great reunion of the trio at the Blue Note in 1990, from which the historic set was taken with Bobby Durham on drums: "Honeysuckle Rose," "Kelly's Blues," and "Wheatland" all come from those sets. Other live cuts include "Reunion Blues," with Benny Green, Ellis, Brown, and drummer Lewis Nash from the Tribute to Oscar Peterson concert in New York, and "Night Time" from Oscar in Paris. There are a few studio numbers here as well including "In a Mellow Tone," with Brown, Nash, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, and Lorne Lofsky, and the stellar version of "Tin Tin Deo," with Roy Hargrove, Ørsted-Pedersen, and Ralph Moore was recorded in Canada for release on mid-'90s albums like The More I See You and Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite. With the exception of the aforementioned minor complaint, this is a fine overview of some of Peterson's most productive years. Included is an excellent liner essay by writer James Isaacs.

Customer Reviews

The Good Stuff ...

I stumbled upon Oscar Peterson about a year ago and really enjoy his version of jazz. I'm not a jazz scholar so those of you who are please humor me, but this is just good stuff! If you like jazz, or think you like jazz, these are some classic cuts that will chill you out and put a smile on your face. Great music by a great artist.

The Ideal Introduction to Peterson?

The death of a great artist often results in a flurry or interest in his work, and I fear this album's hyperbolic title might be leading a number of people to buy it thinking it's a "perfect" introduction to his work. While it's not bad--Peterson was a very consistent artist and seldom in his long career made a record that could be called a dog--he recorded many of these tracks in his old age, so it's maybe not the ideal introduction to him. "Night Train" will go down as perhaps his masterpiece, and, as it's not difficult, there's no reason not to start there. It features him in his classic trio setting, and the sound quality is great. Also, any of the records Mr. Peterson made with Count Basie (there are five of them, every track worthwhile to own) would probably be the best introduction for newcomers. iTunes also features "The Alternate Blues," a combo recording with Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, and Freddie Hubbard that's terrific, and bargain priced. Any of a half dozen other records on iTunes show Oscar in better form than here. I don't mean to diss this very decent compilation, which contains some classic tracks, but the title is a bit misleading--it's not the best of Oscar Peterson, all things considered.

Response to TXinD76121

If you notice, this album was released in January 2007, exactly 11 months before Dr. Peterson passed away. It was not done to commemorate his death. The songs were chosen while he was still alive. Dr. Peterson was fully aware of the CD's released and approved every song that was on that album. There has not been an official CD released to commemorate his death. I understand what you are trying to say, but just the information was slightly misleading.


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...
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