The Record Collection

Oscar Peterson Trio: The Complete Clef/Mercury Studio Recordings (1951-53)

Mosaic Records B0011915 [2008]

The Complete Clef-Mercury Studio Recordings

Track list:

101 – Turtle Neck (A)
102 – It’s Easy To Remember (A)
103 – Pooper (A)
104 – Love For Sale (A)
105 – Until the Real Thing Comes Along (A)
106 – You Go To My Head (B)
107 – They Can’t Take That Away From Me (B)
108 – There’s a Small Hotel (B)
109 – You Turned the Tables On Me (B)
110 – These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) (B)
111 – I Can’t Get Started (B)
112 – Blue Moon (B)
113 – East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) (B)
114 – The Astaire Blues (C)

201 – Tea For Two (C)
202 – Slow Down (C)
203 – Oh, Lady Be Good (C)
204 – Body And Soul (C)
205 – Stompin At The Savoy (C)
206 – Rough Ridin’ (C)
207 – Just One Of Those Things (C)
208 – Too Marvelous For Words (C)
209 – But Not For Me (C)

301 – That Makes A Difference To Me (D)
302 – Autumn In New York (D)
303 – Pettiford’s Tune (Little Boy) (D)
304 – You Go To My Head (D)
305 – Thou Swell (D)
306 – Willow Weep For Me (D)
307 – Minor Blues (D)
308 – Pick Yourself Up (E)
309 – Long Ago And Far Away (E)
310 – Love Walked In (E)
311 – I Got Rhythm (E)
312 – A Fine Romance (E)
313 – A Foggy Day (E)
314 – Strike Up The Band (E)
315 – The Man I Love (E)
316 – Let’s Do It (E)
317 – It Ain’t Necessarily So (E)
318 – I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (E)
319 – I’ve Got A Crush On You (E)
320 – Night And Day (E)
321 – Isn’t This A Lovely Day? (E)
322 – What Is This Thing Called Love? (E)
323 – Willow Weep For Me (Alt Take 4) (D)

The Complete Clef-Mercury Recordings (5 photo 1)

401 – Oh Lady Be Good (E)
402 – ‘S Wonderful (E)
403 – Anything Goes (E)
404 – I’ve Got You Under My Skin (E)
405 – Fascinating Rhythm (E)
406 – Cheek To Cheek (E)
407 – I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) (E)
408 – In A Mellow Tone (E)
409 – I Love You (E)
410 – Somebody Loves Me (E)
411 – I Was Doing All Right (E)
412 – In The Still Of The Night (E)
413 – Every Time We Say Goodbye (E)
414 – Just A-Sittin’ And A-Rockin’ (E)
415 – Begin The Beguine (E)
416 – So Near And Yet So Far (E)
417 – Blue Skies (E)
418 – Take The “A” Train (E)
419 – Sophisticated Lady (E)
420 – Cotton Tail (E)
421 – Prelude To A Kiss (E)
422 – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (E)
423 – Rockin’ In Rhythm (E)

501 – Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me (Trio Version) (E)
502 – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (E)
503 – John Hardy’s Wife (E)
504 – Always (E)
505 – Easter Parade (F)
506 – Alexander’s Ragtime Band (F)
507 – The Song Is Ended (F)
508 – Say It Isn’t So (F)
509 – Remember (F)
510 – If I Had You (F)
511 – How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky) (F)
512 – I’m Glad There Is You (G)
513 – Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Around A Pug-Nosed Dream) (G)
514 – One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (G)
515 – I Hear Music (G)
516 – Autumn In New York (Clef Version) (G)
517 – I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (G)
518 – Spring Is Here (G)
519 – The Things We Did Last Summer (G)
520 – Streets Boogie (F)
521 – Booket T. Blues (F)

601 – Pompton Turnpike (H)
602 – Cherokee (H)
603 – Soft Winds (LP take) (H)
604 – Carioca (Trio Version) (H)
605 – The Continental (H)
606 – Tea For Two (Trio Version) (H)
607 – I Know That You Know (H)
608 – Hallelujah! (H)
609 – Yesterdays (H)
610 – You Are Too Beautiful (H)
611 – Isn’t It Romantic (H)
612 – The Sheik Of Araby (H)
613 – There’ll Be Some Changes Made (H)
614 – Pompton Turnpike (78 take) (H)
615 – Soft Winds (78 Version) (H)
616 – The Continental (Alt Take-1) (H)

The Complete Clef-Mercury Recordings (1 front 3)

701 – Without A Song (I)
702 – Sometimes I’m Happy (I)
703 – Time On My Hands (I)
704 – More Than You Know (I)
705 – This Can’t Be Love (I)
706 – Blue Moon (I)
707 – The Lady Is A Tramp (I)
708 – It Might As Well Be Spring (I)
709 – Bewitched (I)
710 – The Way You Look Tonight (I)
711 – Ol Man River (I)
712 – Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man Of Mine (I)
713 – The Song Is You (I)
714 – Lovely To Look At (I)
715 – Johnny One Note (I)
716 – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (I)
717 – Bill (I)
718 – Look For The Silver Lining (I)
719 – Surrey With The Fringe On Top (I)
720 – Lover (I)


(A) OSCAR PETERSON TRIO: Oscar Peterson (p, vcl), Barney Kessel (g), Ray Brown (b).
LA, November 25, 1951
(B) OSCAR PETERSON TRIO: Oscar Peterson (p), Irving Ashby (g), Ray Brown (b).
LA, January 26, 1952
(C) OSCAR PETERSON QUARTET: Oscar Peterson (p, vcl), Barney Kessel (g), Ray Brown (b), Alvin Stoller (d).
LA, February 26, 1952
(D) OSCAR PETERSON TRIO: Oscar Peterson (p, vcl), Barney Kessel (g), Ray Brown (b).
LA, May or June 1952
LA, early December 1952
LA, c. December 1952
(G) OSCAR PETERSON TRIO: Same as (D) except all titles have vocals by Peterson.
NYC, May 21, 1953
LA, December 6, 1953
LA, December 7, 1953

Original sessions supervised by Norman Granz
Produced for release by Scott Wenzel
Executive producer: Michael Cuscuna

Tape transfers: Ellen Fitton
Additional disc transfers: Malcolm Addey, Dr. Michael Arie, Mark Wilder

Sound restoration and mastering by Malcolm Addey.

24 bit technology was utilized at all stages of the production of this Mosaic release.

Special thanks to Dr. Michael Arie (for the use of his rare Norgran 78), Kyle Benson, Tad Hershorn, The Institute of Jazz Studies, Konrad Nowakowski, Hank O’Neal, Bob Porter, Kevin Reeves and Andy Skurow.

All tracks courtesy of The Verve Music Group.

The Complete Clef-Mercury Recordings -notes (pfd 152KB)

The Complete Mercury-Clef Recordings (1 front 1)

Oscar Peterson appeared on hundreds of recordings produced by Norman Granz, though most of his early trio dates for Mercury and Clef were overlooked for CD reissue until the release of this thorough seven-disc compilation by Mosaic in 2008. It still represents only a portion of the pianist’s considerable output for the two labels between 1951 and 1953. This collection was put together as a result of laborious detective work, assembling nine different sessions from tape masters and second generation reels, 78s, EPs and LPs, some of which came from collectors and libraries, while also including eight previously unissued performances. In spite of the variation in source material, the audio is consistently high, thanks to Malcolm Addey’s skillful sound restoration and mastering.

The biggest news is that the guitarist on most of these dates is Barney Kessel, who spent just over a year in Peterson’s trio, with Irving Ashby taking his place on one session. The pianist had already built a relationship with bassist Ray Brown, but the addition of Kessel added some spark to the mix. The chemistry becomes apparent in the extended jam of Peterson’s “Astaire Blues” (which isn’t a blues at all), with rapid-fire exchanges between the players. The performances have held up very well, due to the abilities of the musicians and the choice of material, as most of the 126 songs are either well known standards or originals by prominent jazz composers. Peterson penned several originals (none of which became a lasting part of his vast repertoire) and sings on several numbers, beginning with “Until the Real Thing Comes Along,” but the similarity of his vocal style to Nat King Cole’s kept it from being a major component of his career, even though he made a few vocal albums and still occasionally sang into at least the early ’80s. John McDonough’s extensive liner notes are excellent, though it is odd that the misspelling of several musician’s names (Major Holley, Chico O’Farrill and Tadd Dameron) and composer Ann Ronnell escaped the proofreader. The package also includes a number of rarely seen vintage photographs from the period. This essential Oscar Peterson boxed set, a limited edition of 10,000 copies, is destined to become a collector’s item.
~Ken Dryden []

Oscar Peterson:

Born: August 15, 1925, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: December 23, 2007, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Active: ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, 2000s
Genres: Jazz
Instrument: Piano
Representative Albums: “Exclusively for My Friends, Vol. 4: My Favorite Instrument”, “At the Stratford Shakespearean Festival”, “Exclusively for My Friends”
Representative Songs: “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, “Night and Day”

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).

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 []