Oscar Peterson: Plays The Cole Porter Songbook 

The pianist stays faithful to Porter's originals while adding personal colour in a reissue with 14 bonus tracks


This is an excellent album – or perhaps I should say one and a half plus albums, for the booklet that accompanies the disc explains that Mister P. recorded an album in 1952 with a slightly different title (Oscar Peterson Plays Cole Porter) and slightly different personnel – no drummer, but Barney Kessel on guitar and, again, Ray Brown on bass. In addition, the last track features a vocal by Oscar, source not identified.

The bulk of the album – tracks 1-13 – was recorded in two sessions in July and August 1959 in Chicago. Another six tracks are described as “bonus” (presumably from the same sessions but unissued); a further six come from the 1952 Porter album; the last track is From This Moment On, featuring the unidentified vocal.

I’ll focus on the first 13 tracks which, as I’ve noted, are excellent. Although bass and drums are not given any solo time they are both clearly present throughout with Brown’s pulsing rhythm and Thigpen’s tasty stickery complementing and weaving filigrees around the piano respectively.

For a jazz album, it adheres to Porter’s melodies remarkably consistently, especially on the first track, In The Still Of The Night, which is almost stately as performed by the trio. Whilst my own preference is for the ballads – both Easy To Love and Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye are handled with kid gloves – the bouncers too will, I’m certain, find their advocates.

In The Still Of The Night; It’s All Right With Me; Love For Sale; Just One Of Those Things, I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; Night And Day; Easy To Love; Why Can’t You Behave; I Love Paris; I Concentrate On You; It’s DeLovely; I Get A Kick Out Of You; Just One Of Those Things; Love For Sale; Let’s Do It; Night And Day; What Is This Thing Called Love; Anything Goes; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Love You; In The Still Of The Night; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; Begin The Beguine; So Near And Yet So Far; From This Moment On (76.40)

Variously: Peterson (p); Barney Kessel (g); Ray Brown (b); Ed Thigpen (d). Chicago, Los Angeles and Paris, 1951-59.
20th Century Masterworks 170057