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Oscar's Ballads

  out of 4 Music Review: Oscar's Ballads

Artist: Oscar Peterson
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: April 2001

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
No rating supplied

After listening to the remastered Pablo release "The Composer" recently, I feel that I am starting to understand Oscar Peterson's work on a different level. With this recent release from Telarc, "Oscar's Ballads", again a different light is shed upon this legendary performer's work. His catalog is immense, dating back to 1945 when he released his first album. Peterson is entering his sixth decade of recording since the turn of the new millennium. That in and of itself speaks volumes for his art form and constancy. I merely have touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring this man's enormous body of work. Yes, I am a beginner, and I am delighted to say that the discovery of this jazz giant has given me a new perspective on the entire genre. Peterson will make you rethink the importance placed upon Coltrane and Davis. While those particular artists were very important, I think Peterson deserves his place alongside them as a major influence in the development of jazz as we know it today.

Peterson is well known for his rapid-fire fingers upon the keyboards. With this in mind you will hear a beautiful collection of ballads and the softer and more introspective Peterson immaculately displaying his artistry on these tracks. Although he maintains his style and steadfast approach to his craft, he allows himself and his surrounding bands to allow the eloquent and soft side of his personality and music to rise to the top, always keeping in mind that you are aware of all his influences, which you will hear in every song. Swing, bop, blues, jazz, ragtime, classical…all of them are heard loud and clear regardless of the approach taken by Peterson. "Tranquille" was recorded live in Paris in 1996. The title is befitting of the music to be sure. The track runs over nine minutes and it's a charming passage for his accompaniment. Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson, world-renowned bass player, is one of the many great jazz players that Peterson exchanges notes with on that track. Roy Hargove adds his familiarly exquisite trumpet to "Ecstasy", and the astounding oeuvre "Peace For Africa" (10:58) is influenced by the fabulous Ray Brown on bass, Bobby Durham on drums, and Herb Ellis on guitar.

It's obvious Peterson has played with many of the all-time greats. Once again we can witness the jazz giants playing amongst giants. It's a wonderful thing this jazz idiom. There are eight tracks off of eight albums, giving you a taste of the resourcefulness and magnitude of one of the last centuries most influential and most incredible jazz pianist.

1. Harcourt Nights
2. If You Only Knew
3. When Summer Comes
4. Nighttime
5. Love Ballade
6. Tranquille
7. Ecstasy
8. Peace For South Africa



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