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Jazz review: Various artists: Oscar, With Love


The Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson was one of the few pure jazz instrumentalists to become a household name. Others got there by making singing a large part of their act. Peterson won fame by emulating the baroque sophistication of his idol, Art Tatum, but adding intensity and speed. No other pianist has matched his dazzling technique, or the distinguished list of artists with whom he played.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Peterson’s death a number of jazz pianists were asked to record his compositions — as well as pieces linked to him — at his home studio on his Bösendorfer Imperial piano (yes, that’s how successful he was). It casts a rare spotlight on Peterson the writer, showing him to be more of a romantic balladeer than his reputation for high-octane swinging might suggest.

Michel Legrand takes Harcourt Nights through a range of styles, from boogie-woogie to bossa nova, yet states the rhapsodic theme with bittersweet passion. His playing on the Gershwin-esque Dream of Me is boldly bluesy with an inventive left hand. The soul-jazz veteran Ramsey Lewis takes a similarly eclectic approach to Laurentide Waltz with hesitant passages blossoming into delirious outbursts.

Kenny Barron enlivens the limpid Ballad for Benny Carter with a quirky stride solo, while Monty Alexander puts a bit of grit into The Gentle Waltz. Chick Corea’s original One for Oscar is a rather lugubrious portrait, underlining the notion that the pianist was more than a straightforward showman. Give this intriguing set a listen and you many never hear Peterson in quite the same way again. (Mack Avenue)

Read the full piece from: The TImes

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