Hardbopjazz

Does Oscar Peterson get a bad rap?

150 posts in this topic

If we are using a numerical range, I’d probably place him between 5 and 6 although Jim’s 6.5 isn’t probably far off either. I like him in short bursts from time to time. 

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Here is TTK's humble experience with Oscar Peterson:

I was first exposed to jazz as a kid via my Dad.  He had in his collection such amazing albums as Mundell Lowe's TV Action Jazz! and the Double Six of Paris U.S. debut on Capitol, but he did not have any Oscar Peterson.

When I hit junior high, I started to really explore jazz.  Dave Brubeck's Time Out was a gateway of sorts.  I had somehow formed this idea - either through research, conversation, or my own observations - that Oscar Peterson was kind of a Liberace or Peter Nero of jazz - a recognizable figure that may be found in the record collections of people who had a few jazz albums, but not one who was rated very highly among the jazz crowd.

In high school, I bought one Oscar Peterson album - a double LP compilation of his Verve tracks.  The only track that really stood out was his version of "On Green Dolphin Street," mostly because of Milt Jackson's vibes.

When I was in my late 20s, I was getting serious about my own piano playing and buying almost everyone's solo jazz piano album, just to hear how they approached playing solo.  I picked up Oscar's My Favorite Instrument on MPS.  While I was taken by Oscar's touch and technical command, I did not find this album as compelling as other solo piano albums by Roland Hanna, Hank Jones, or Randy Weston.

In the 1990s, during the Great Vinyl Purge, I was dragging home dollar albums by the armload.  I picked up basically any Oscar Peterson album on Verve, Norgran, or Clef that I stumbled upon.  I would generally play these once and file them.  If I revisited them, I might pull one out if we were having guests over for cocktails.  

I eventually ended up with about 20 Oscar Peterson albums.  The only two I routinely revisit are his woefully mistitled Soul Espagnole on Limelight, a strange mashup of Brazilian tunes with Afro-Cuban percussion; and Motions and Emotions on MPS, which I adore not for the piano, but rather for that decadent Euro 1970s fondue sound, courtesy of Claus Ogerman.  I also have Oscar's soundtrack album to the 1978 thriller The Silent Partner, starring Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, and Susannah York.  I should revisit this one.  

While I would not be too eager to unload any of these albums, I also don't feel compelled to spin them very often.  

As for Oscar's influence on my own modest piano playing, I did cop his solo coda to "East of the Sun" by Billie Holiday, which I use in my arrangement of "All the Way." 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Have about 60 Items with Oscar LP's / CD's and some boxes.

He is one of my favorite jazz artists I can listen to  at any time.

Beginning with his very early recordings on RCA, the rich  selections on Verve under his name as well as doing "the house rhythm section" for other Norman Granz' artists and some on the Pablo label, Justintime label + some live stuff from the swiss  radio label and the french RTE/Trema and reissues on VSP/VSPS.   The high rated "London House"  recordings  do not belong to my favorites. Heavens sake the tastes are different.

Outstanding for me are the Trio recordings without drummer  that is with Ray Brown, Barney Kessel or Herb Ellis.  The "song books" are nice but not a deep performance. but the rest with the Trio is  first class [for me]. The MPS material is superbe because of the recording technique and I like also the " decadent Euro 19710 fondue sound" if I need some quieter music.

That is all I can comment from my side on this thread.

Thanks

 

Edited by jazzcorner
more text

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8 minutes ago, jazzcorner said:

...and I like also the " decadent Euro 19710 fondue sound" if I need some quieter music.

Oh, but some of those records are on the noisy side!  

 

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 Maybee a little "offtopic" but Nelson Riddle was a great arranger and had some nice albums on Capitol. "C'mon get happy" is the swingiest.

Same  genre as Jackie Gleason for the "lighter side" but he is also available with swinging big band sounds.

BTW "Changing Colors" is here in the stock. The music is like the title "changing colors"

If I need "noise" I am to 50 % a big band collector and have enought stuff for that  direction too.

;-]]

 

 

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8 minutes ago, jazzcorner said:

 Maybee a little "offtopic" but Nelson Riddle was a great arranger and had some nice albums on Capitol. "C'mon get happy" is the swingiest.

Same  genre as Jackie Gleason for the "lighter side" but he is also available with swinging big band sounds.

BTW "Changing Colors" is here in the stock. The music is like the title "changing colors"

If I need "noise" I am to 50 % a big band collector and have enought stuff for that  direction too.

;-]]

Nelson was good, but nowhere near as great as Les Baxter.  Les never did an MPS album, but his 1970 album with 101 Strings gives a taste of what one might have sounded like.  Dig the passage at around 1:22 where Les includes a "rock" version of the riff from his classic "Simba" from Tamboo! (1955):

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I'll see your Les Baxter 101 Strings and call it with the Nelson Riddle Same:

The first time I heard that record, it kinda fucked me up, because, you know, 101 Strings and shit. And then...Nelson Riddle had a melancholy streak that was more like a canyon...reading his biography, it appears that at root he was a very sad man.

Then again, with a middle name like Smock...

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34 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I'll see your Les Baxter 101 Strings and call it with the Nelson Riddle Same:

I have that Nelson101 Strings.  It is excellent, save for the lame, bombastic Paul Simon cover.

But you should hear that Les Baxter Que Mango album all the way through.  It is on the InterTubes.

But we are getting off topic.  What did you think about my Oscar Peterson experience?  

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You bought more of his records than I did.

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3 minutes ago, JSngry said:

You bought more of his records than I did.

Yeah, but at those prices, who's complaining?  

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10 hours ago, JSngry said:

I'll see your Les Baxter 101 Strings and call it with the Nelson Riddle Same.

 

I think this is correct. Sinatra had only "the best" arrangers and Riddle belongs to those.

Les Baxter belongs in the same cathegorie but who is "better" is pure personal preference.

But probably we should discuss this in another thread.

Thanks

 

 

 

Edited by jazzcorner
typo

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I don´t know what was the reason he was so "omnipresent" in record collections in "middleclass/upper middleclass" households in my hometown. 

But that´s how I heard "jazz piano" for the first time when still a kid. It took me one more year to know who Miles Davis, who Charles Mingus are. 

But as I said, Peterson was so omnipresent in some musical houses I thought he might be "the most famous pianist of all times" and when I got my first "Jazz Book" (Joachim Ernst Behrendt) I had expected there might be a "whole chapter about Oscar Peterson" but was astonished that he´s hardly mentioned. But it was the same Thing in other jazz books too "Arrigo Pollilo "Jazz" …….the same Thing. 

It seems that book writers, critics didn´t really like him. 

May I have been influenced by those book authors or not, later I got tired of listenig to Oscar Peterson, at least most of the time. I found it more exiting to listen to the "sidemen" pianists on other Albums I had and I had few. I had "Steamin´ from Miles" and learned all the "Red Garland solos" on it. I had "Great Concert of Mingus" and learned all the stuff Jackie Byard Plays, and I had "Miles in Europe" and learned all the stuff Herbie Hancock plays on it. 

So ironically I became a "sideman piano" listener more than a listener of lead pianos. 

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On 10.12.2019 at 4:39 PM, JSngry said:

Peterson's playing definitely provokes STRONG reactions, both pro and con. No doubt about that.

That seems obvious in this forum  (but also not only here) and is valid for many even successful artists in general  and is also a truism. The economic success even in Oscar's lifetime shows that the majority of postings here with that negative touch are a small exemption and (I repeat myself) personal preferences from "nonpianists".

Thats ok with me. I dont like many artists on many fields. Thats simply human and has no affect for the artists themselves. They know what they do wether you like it or not. This is valid also for every kind of art.  I have bought Down Beat 5 stars rated albums and didnt like them at all and I like very much  albums with a zero rating from Down Beat. So what?  We dont like all the same meal and every critic rates acc. his personal Impression.

Btw "de mortuis nihil nisi bene".

Thanks

 

 

Edited by jazzcorner
text change

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14 minutes ago, jazzcorner said:

Btw "de mortuis nihil nisi bene".

qEj4x.jpg

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just saw this the other day....

lets analyze/criticize  this to death :)

 

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I like Oscar Peterson now more than ever.  Few artists of any sort are as consistent as he was.  I guess some would view "consistent" as doing too much of the same thing and not producing a handful of masterpieces.  But I don't always need a masterpiece or an innovative record. 

I've just put together a playlist of Oscar playing Gershwin--all kinds of 1950s work primarily, but also some tracks from the fine Zoot Sims record of Gershwin (on Pablo).  Sorry, but this is complete listening pleasure.

 

  

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I have to agree with you. This one always makes me smile.

Image result for zoot sims plays gershwin

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Thanks for this, I would not have had Bobby Timmons on my bingo card for "pianists Monk apparently really dug".

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On 12/10/2019 at 9:42 PM, danasgoodstuff said:

Iverson is only superficially nicer to Oscar than Miles was and he takes far longer to say it. 

Disagree... I feel like Iverson highlights specific elements of Peterson’s style that irritate Peterson’s detractors.  (Though some of it may just be ex-post rationalization)

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Most of know Monk could be sweet, harsh, caustic, mysterious, and funny--sometimes all at once.  

 

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BTW and FWIW, the motive behind my survey of all the OP albums I have was that in the case of a musician l who obviously is talented but whom I usually don't care for, I sometimes like to see if I can detect significant instances of vitality/quality/you name it and then figure out why performance X comes to life IMO while performances Y and Z do not. It's kind of educational in ways that can apply to all  sorts of players and, as happened this time through the OP albums, I can find some nice music that I didn't even know was there.

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