The Best of the MPS Years (Remastered) Oscar Peterson

Album info



Label: MPS

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Mainstream Jazz

Artist: Oscar Peterson

Album including Album cover


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  • 1All the Things You Are (Remastered)06:10
  • 2Triste05:21
  • 3Day by Day04:43
  • 4The Windmills of Your Mind (Remastered)05:00
  • 5Wave (Remastered)06:03
  • 6Fly Me to the Moon04:37
  • 7I've Got a Crush On You (Live)05:15
  • 8Wandering (Remastered)02:54
  • 9Alice in Wonderland (Live)04:41
  • 10Sometimes I'm Happy (Live)05:05
  • 11Give Me the Simple Life (Remastered)03:58
  • 12A Child Is Born (Remastered)03:42
  • 13Eleanor Rigby (Remastered)03:05
  • 14Exactly Like You04:46
  • 15I Love You (Remastered)05:11
  • 16On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Live)04:21
  • 17Ode to Billy Joe (Remastered)02:39
  • 18Children's Game (Remastered)02:40
  • Total Runtime01:20:11

Info for The Best of the MPS Years (Remastered)

When the world-renowned Canadian pianist came to Villingen in 1961, there was a mood of intense excitement all round. Hans-Georg Brunner-Schwer (HGBS), former owner of the hifi dynasty SABA who died in 2004, had just set up the first version of his studio, equipped with the most advanced recording technology of the time, above the living-room in his villa. This was the bait used by the piano enthusiast to attract the famous pianist to the Black Forest. After a guest performance in Zurich, Peterson climbed into a limousine and embarked on a journey across the mountains. As soon as he arrived, along with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, the international star was led to the Steinway grand in the living-room where a number of excited guests were eagerly waiting. "I listened to him play 'til four o'clock in the morning and lost the desire to ever hear the Beatles again!", says Matthias Brunner-Schwer, HGBS' son, still starry-eyed half a century later. The legendary pianist himself was equally delighted when he listened to the recording of the nocturnal living-room performance, never before having heard such a direct and pristine piano sound on tape. It sounded to him as if he was still there at the grand piano, undisturbed by distracting nightclub sounds yet surrounded by a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. Peterson's enthusiastic response marked the beginning of a long-term friendship and spiritual kinship with Brunner-Schwer.

In the following years, the Canadian pianist returned again and again to the Black Forest with various line-ups to capture his musical vision on tape. As Peterson was still under contract to Verve, the recordings could not be released before 1968. The legendary "Exclusively For My Friends" series was the first release for Brunner-Schwer's newly-established MPS label. Never before had a recording captured every aspect of Peterson's ground-breaking sound so vividly: the virtuosity and the speed as well as the delicate inspiration he brings to the subtle and reflective moments. The touch of light-hearted wit and the depth of lyrical feeling. Elegance and swing, interspersed with moments of intensity and explosive outbursts. The art of improvisation - simultaneously confident and imaginative - fuelled by harmonic and ornamental inventiveness. These recordings, made over a short period of five years, also reflect the transformation from equal member of a trio to soloist.

Oscar Peterson, piano

Digitally remastered

Oscar Peterson
was one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol, Art Tatum, Peterson's speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo were amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, O.P. was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style did not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing formed during the mid- to late '40s and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson was criticized through the years because he used so many notes, didn't evolve much since the 1950s, and recorded a remarkable number of albums. Perhaps it is because critics ran out of favorable adjectives to use early in his career; certainly it can be said that Peterson played 100 notes when other pianists might have used ten, but all 100 usually fit, and there is nothing wrong with showing off technique when it serves the music. As with Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk, to name two, Peterson spent his career growing within his style rather than making any major changes once his approach was set, certainly an acceptable way to handle one's career. Because he was Norman Granz's favorite pianist (along with Tatum) and the producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and a few are routine, but the great majority are quite excellent, and there are dozens of classics.

Peterson started classical piano lessons when he was six and developed quickly. After winning a talent show at 14, he began starring on a weekly radio show in Montreal. Peterson picked up early experience as a teenager playing with Johnny Holmes' Orchestra. From 1945-1949, he recorded 32 selections for Victor in Montreal. Those trio performances find Peterson displaying a love for boogie-woogie, which he would soon discard, and the swing style of Teddy Wilson and Nat King Cole. His technique was quite brilliant even at that early stage, and although he had not yet been touched by the influence of bop, he was already a very impressive player. Granz discovered Peterson in 1949 and soon presented him as a surprise guest at a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. Peterson was recorded in 1950 on a series of duets with either Ray Brown or Major Holley on bass; his version of "Tenderly" became a hit. Peterson's talents were quite obvious, and he became a household name in 1952 when he formed a trio with guitarist Barney Kessel and Brown. Kessel tired of the road and was replaced by Herb Ellis the following year. The Peterson-Ellis-Brown trio, which often toured with JATP, was one of jazz's great combos from 1953-1958. Their complex yet swinging arrangements were competitive -- Ellis and Brown were always trying to outwit and push the pianist -- and consistently exciting. In 1958, when Ellis left the band, it was decided that no other guitarist could fill in so well, and he was replaced (after a brief stint by Gene Gammage) by drummer Ed Thigpen. In contrast to the earlier group, the Peterson-Brown-Thigpen trio (which lasted until 1965) found the pianist easily the dominant soloist. Later versions of the group featured drummers Louis Hayes (1965-1966), Bobby Durham (1967-1970), Ray Price (1970), and bassists Sam Jones (1966-1970) and George Mraz (1970).

With Respect to Nat In 1960, Peterson established the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted for three years. He made his first recorded set of unaccompanied piano solos in 1968 (strange that Granz had not thought of it) during his highly rated series of MPS recordings. With the formation of the Pablo label by Granz in 1972, Peterson was often teamed with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels Pedersen. He appeared on dozens of all-star records, made five duet albums with top trumpeters (Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry, and Jon Faddis), and teamed up with Count Basie on several two-piano dates. An underrated composer, Peterson wrote and recorded the impressive "Canadiana Suite" in 1964 and has occasionally performed originals in the years since. Although always thought of as a masterful acoustic pianist, Peterson has also recorded on electric piano (particularly some of his own works), organ on rare occasions, and even clavichord for an odd duet date with Joe Pass. One of his rare vocal sessions in 1965, With Respect to Nat, reveals that Peterson's singing voice was nearly identical to Nat King Cole's. A two-day reunion with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown in 1990 (which also included Bobby Durham) resulted in four CDs. Peterson was felled by a serious stroke in 1993 that knocked him out of action for two years. He gradually returned to the scene, however, although with a weakened left hand. Even when he wasn't 100 percent, Peterson was a classic improviser, one of the finest musicians that jazz has ever produced. The pianist appeared on an enormous number of records through the years. As a leader, he has recorded for Victor, Granz's Clef and Verve labels (1950-1964), MPS, Mercury, Limelight, Pablo, and Telarc. (Scott Yanow, AllMusic)

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