Oscar Peterson

This compilation actually represents two LP's o­n o­ne CD. It combines "Oscar Peterson Plays Harold Arlen", recorded in Hollywood in November 1954, with "Oscar Peterson Plays the Harold Arlen Songbook", recorded in July 1959 at Universal Recording Studios, Chicago. Peterson pays tribute to o­ne of the great American composers of the 20th century. Harold Arlen was a contemporary of George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and part of the "Tin Pan Alley" era. The two renditions of "Over the Rainbow" are particularly poignant. Peterson and his trios treat Arlen's music with the reverence it deserves, while adding a haunting jazzy touch to the songs. Nine of the twenty-four numbers are repeated, which gives us a rare opportunity to see how Oscar's style evolved during the five years period between the two recording sessions. Peterson was inspired by Nat King Cole and Art Tatum, and displays Tatum's "Pianistic" approach in this set of performances. Arlen was known as o­ne of the last of the great Romantics. He claimed to have trouble getting out of a song, and Peterson makes us sad to see it end. A true collector's item.

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