Oscar Peterson Trio: Walking The Line

The Canadian pianist's sparkling 1970 Black Forest improvisations in trio with George Mraz are reissued in remastered form

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Oscar Peterson recorded nine albums through German producer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer between 1969 and 1971, and Walking The Line was recorded in the middle of the period – around 1970. Peterson’s virtuoso improvisation might not mean much to those who just like a good tune, but MPS’s notes on the session well encapsulate its appeal to jazz fans:

“Peterson, bassist Georg Mraz, and drummer Ray Price are perfectly attuned to one another, while the pianist has sought out an original repertoire, framed by two Cole Porter Classics. With its richly coloured harmonies and unwavering dynamics, an infectious exuberance flows through I Love You. On through to the final note, All Of You celebrates Peterson’s vibrant feel for medium-tempo swing.

“The three musicians twice proffer a tip of the hat French composer Michel Legrand. The Canadian breaks up the otherwise languorous atmosphere of The Windmills Of Your Mind with a breathtaking series of sparkling 16th notes. Legrand’s Once Upon A Summertime reveals Peterson’s lyrical side with an impressionistic, meditative harmonic arrangement. It finds a meditative brother in the veiled melancholy of I Didn’t Know What Time It Was. Peterson creates the biggest surprise with his irresistible, highly charged version of the gospel Rock Of Ages – and Jiři Mraz finds space for a singing intermezzo.”

This entry, a remastered anniversary edition, should delight OP buffs, making well-known songs Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Michel Legrand, Johnny Mercer and Sammy Cahn sound like originals. The producer’s son, Matthias Brunner-Schwer, recalled discovering OP at his father’s first recording sessions with the pianist in the Black Forest in 1961: “I listened to him play ’til four o’clock in the morning and lost the desire to ever hear the Beatles again!”

Discography
I Love You; Rock Of Ages; Once Upon A Summertime; Just Friends; Teach Me Tonight; The Windmills Of Your Mind; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; All Of You (40.50)
Peterson (p); Jiri Mraz (b); Ray Price (d). MPS Tonstudio, Villingen, Germany, 10-13 November 1970.