Just a Memory
Captured in Vancouver 1958 (Just a Memory), this exhilarating live set is the second volume of Oscar Peterson material recorded at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. Opening on an uncharacteristically mellow note, Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Roy Brown-who are at the peak of their powers at the time of this recording-take the ultimate jamming vehicle, "How High the Moon," at a deliberately slow clip, rendering it as a lush ballad. Peterson, Canada's premier jazz figure then and now, demonstrates his unrivaled command of the keyboard on relaxed renditions of "We'll Be Together Again" and Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" before exploding with Tatum-esque runs on uptempo scorchers like Brown's "Daahoud" and the lesser known Rodgers and Hart tune "I Like to Recognize the Tune." And Ellis runs neck-and-neck with him in these fleet-fingered races through the scales.
More pyrotechnics can be heard on an impossibly fast version of John Lewis' "The Golden Striker," which includes some dazzling stride playing by Peterson. Ellis is featured on an unaccompanied guitar piece, "Patricia," which incorporates classical and flamenco motifs, then reverts to his Texas roots on "Pogo," an uptempo blues-drenched cooker that opens with a sizzling guitar-bass duet before Peterson ultimately joins the fray with his own brand of burn. They close on an ambitious note with an extended chamber piece, "The Music Box Suite," which travels from stately baroque to delicate waltz to driving, syncopated swing and back to baroque in the course of 11 minutes. The sheer virtuosity and chemistry of these three jazz giants more than makes up for the slightly inferior sound quality.