Oscar Peterson has stated that he feels his MPS recordings are his finest. That is quite a statement considering the huge amount of records that the pianist has produced through the past 50 years. This set reissues the music from six of his MPS LPs: Action, Girl Talk, The Way I Really Play, My Favorite Instrument, Mellow Mood, and Travelin' On. While some of the performances feature the 1963 trio he had with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, most of the music dates from 1967-1968 and matches Peterson with bassist Sam Jones and either Louis Hayes or Bobby Durham on drums. A special treat is Peterson's first unaccompanied solo album, which fills up the final LP. Peterson's many fans know what to expect in this set, while other listeners need to discover him to realize what all of the fuss was about. Quite simply, Oscar Peterson has long been one of the greatest pianists the world has ever known; this reissue offers plenty of proof.
On Gillespie's second recording for Norman Granz's Pablo label, he joins Oscar Peterson for a set of miraculous duets. Benny Green, who wrote the liner notes for this album, compared this performance of Ellington's classic composition to the Armstrong and Hines rendition of "Weather Bird." Peterson melds a keen sense for complementary accompaniment with dexterous, interweaving polyphonic lines.
This first matchup on records between pianist Oscar Peterson and vibraphonist Milt Jackson was so logical that it is surprising it did not occur five years earlier…
Pianist Oscar Peterson is frequently astounding on this solo set. After nearly 20 years of mostly performing with trios, Peterson sounds quite liberated in this setting, throwing in some hot stride, unexpected changes in tempos and keys, and surprises whenever he thinks of them. "Give Me the Simple Life," "Honeysuckle Rose," and the ironically titled "A Little Jazz Exercise" are quite remarkable, yet Peterson also leaves space for some sensitive ballads.