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Whats Up: The Very Tall Band by Oscar Peterson

Three very tall men, in all the meanings of the word, and their excellent drummer, Karriem Riggins, swing out on Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, Fletcher Henderson and Dizzie Gillespie. It's recorded live at the Blue Note in NYC in 1998 and much more than an afterthought to the Trio's first release from the same concert: 1999's The Very Tall Band Live at the Blue Note.

My Canadian cousin (don't I wish) Oscar Peterson is all over this in the company of uber vibist, Milt Jackson, and the man who put the bass in bass, Ray Brown. Legend has it Ray Brown, with an assist from her onetime piano teacher, Jimmy Rowles, "discovered" Diana Krall. Someone had to. She's Canadian too, come to think of it.

I remember watching an East Bay vibist walk his vibes across Lakeshore Drive in Clear Lake during a Jazz Festival a few years ago. The vision was both traffic stopping and memorable. I also spent a day with him later scooping out possible jazz club sites in Lower Lake. That came to naught, but, when Milt Jackson solos, it seems to me, I can still see that guy walking his sunlit, glowing gold vibes across the street. It was like a soundless solo and a sight you don't forget.

"Salt Peanuts" is wonderful because anything of necessity by Gillespie - say his rendition of He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped in the film, The Spitball Story - is so. Did Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson have positions in Gillespie's dream cabinet proposed during his 1964 run for the Presidency. As in Duke Ellington as Secretary of State or Ray Charles as Librarian of Congress? I do not know as I was too ignorant and unable to vote at the time. But, how many albums have you heard that were graced by the presence of Peterson, Jackson and Brown? Make a list sometimes.

A friend of mine, who's just about to begin writing for Jazz Review as I just have, did much of his previous writing about Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. But he recently sent me an unpublished piece about his favorite bassist, Ray Brown. I hope someone publishes it. The Very Tall Band works in mysterious ways even though two of them are jamming with much of the Great Day In Harlem now. "Three great masters of the art playing for each other" to quote the original liner notes for 1999's The Very Tall Band. That was a three night gig so What's Up showcases them playing even more cuts for you. Clear the CD player, Mabel. The Very Tall Band is here for another residency yet again.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Oscar Peterson
  • CD Title: Whats Up: The Very Tall Band
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Telarc
  • Tracks: Squatty Roo, Salt Peanuts, Ad Lib Blues, If I Should Lose You, Limehouse Blues, Soft Winds, The More I See You.
  • Musicians: Oscar Peterson (piano), Ray Brown (bass), Milt Jackson (vibes), Karriem Riggins (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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