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Oscar Peterson: 1961 Cologne, Gürzenich Concert Hall

Album Notes

Oscar Peterson's vast discography has hardly remained static since his death in 2007. This previously unissued concert broadcast on German radio dates from an appearance with his trio in Cologne in 1961. By this time, his band with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen had been a working unit for two years (though the bassist's association obviously went much further back to their 1949 Carnegie Hall duets). While Peterson had technique to burn, he doesn't try to drown out his bandmates, giving ample space to both men. The trio transforms the often placid "My Heart Stood Still" into a midtempo cooker, with Peterson's flashiness and Brown's solid groove apparent in their respective solos. Peterson trades fours with Thigpen to introduce a rapid-fire treatment of Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant," vocalizing as he digs into his solo. The influence of Art Tatum is obvious in some of his runs worked into the introduction to "My Funny Valentine," though it's clear that he is very much his own man in this spacious, tense arrangement of this favorite standard, with Brown's bluesy solo providing a bridge between the pianist's solos. This set is well recorded and remastered for its initial commercial release, and one hopes that more treasures await discovery in the WDR archives. ~ Ken Dryden



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