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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Live in Vienna 1968

Gambit 69318



  1. You Look Good to Me
  2. Let's Fall in Love
  3. Someday My Prince Will Come
  4. On a Clear Day
  5. Waltz for Debby
  6. Noreen's Nocturne
  7. Never Say Yes
  8. Summer Samba
  9. Li'l Darlin
  10. Medley: I Concentrate On You / I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
  11. The Lamp Is Low
Oscar Peterson - Piano
Sam Jones - Bass
Bobby Durham - Drums

If I ever had to make a case for the technical merits of jazz compared with classical music, I would use Oscar Peterson as my trump card. His ability was equal to any of the great classical pianists - a fact which was recognized by such admirers as André Previn. And he could improvise in a way that most of them never dreamed of.

This CD is a fine example of Oscar's abilities. He seemed to be in a particularly hectic mood at this concert in Vienna's Konzerthaus, as he takes several of the tunes at tearaway tempos. His purity of touch can be heard right at the beginning of the first track, which he introduces in near-classical style, before Sam Jones plays a faultless solo on double bass. When Oscar takes his solo, the first signs appear of the one fault of this album: a fuzzy recording quality which at times becomes almost clangorous.

You Look Good to Me is taken at an easy lope but the next track is the first of some frantic offerings which illustrate this trio's supreme ability to cope with fast tempos. The listener can only gasp as the notes fly past. You might wonder how Sam Jones and Bobby Durham manage to keep up with Oscar but they are complete professionals as well as long-time associates of Peterson, although one can imagine the tortured expression on Bobby's face!

Some Day My Prince Will Come takes a rather more leisurely approach in waltz time, although Oscar's arpeggios are still startling: reminiscent of Art Tatum at his most brilliant. Echoes of Tatum are also present in the medley of I Concentrate on You and I Got It Bad, which includes impressive runs as well as florid decorations and touches of stride.

On a Clear Day is mid-tempo, although the recorded volume varies noticeably in the first minute. Sam Jones's bass is a solid tower of strength here and throughout the album. Bill Evans's Waltz for Debby returns us to waltz time, which doubles up after the theme statement and then transmutes into a bouncy four-four. The blurred recording is a distraction.

Noreen's Nocturne is hardly nocturnal: more get-up-and-go, taken at an almost delirious pace. Bass and drums cope miraculously with their solo breaks. Even Li'l Darlin' is taken at a quicker speed than Count Basie's classic version and the tempo is doubled before the end. Alex Donnelly's sleeve-notes (which depend too much on telling us how often Oscar has recorded each tune) say that the closing number, The Lamp is Low, actually opened the concert but is tacked onto the end of the CD because it starts with a fiery drum solo. Again, the pace is feverish.

The flawed recording quality prevents this from being a must-have even for Peterson fans, but it provides decisive proof that Oscar was a world-class pianist.

Tony Augarde 

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