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ALBUM REVIEWS : A Night For and With Peterson

*** 1/2 OSCAR PETERSON AND OTHERS, "A Tribute to Oscar Peterson: Live at the Town Hall," TelArc

May 18, 1997|Don Heckman

The October 1996 concert chronicled here was billed as a tribute, but Peterson had no intention of sitting back, detached to bask in the glow of the accolades. In that sense, the program was more like a jazz summit, with performers such as Ray Brown, Roy Hargrove, Shirley Horn, Milt Jackson and Clark Terry coming together in a celebration under Peterson's musical direction.

"What Oscar is doing," said bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen at the concert's rehearsal, "and what he's always done, is using people to do the best of what they can do."

Pedersen was right on target. The program includes one delightful moment after another. There are far too many high points to list, but near the top are the encounters between Peterson and Jackson (with the classic rhythm section of Herb Ellis, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums; and Brown, bass) on "Willow Weep for Me" and Jackson's "Bags' Groove." And, although Horn has recorded "Here's to Life" in superb fashion elsewhere, her intimate, deeply poignant, solo rendering of it here has to be considered a classic.

Hargrove's "My Foolish Heart" reveals a surprising degree of emotional depth, and Terry is as whimsical as ever with an almost indecipherable vocal on his trademark blues "Mumbles."

Quality, all of it. And the right kind of tribute--one in which the subject is fully a part of the music--to a great jazz artist.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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