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Oscar Peterson: Solo

Compared with his trio output, little of Oscar Peterson’s unaccompanied playing exists on CD, so these previously unissued solo concerts are a welcome addition to his discography. Recorded in Lebanon and the Netherlands in 1972, Solo finds Peterson full of energy and imagination and eager to fill the harmonic and rhythmic roles of his absent trio colleagues.

The pianos, particularly the one in Lebanon, may not have been in the same class as their player, but Peterson long ago figured out how to road test an instrument to see what it can handle. In Lebanon, we hear him audition the piano by way of a relatively cautious “Yesterdays.” Peterson’s caution resembles many other pianists’ maximum efforts. Then, following a jaunty introduction, he shifts up into a “Makin’ Whoopee” driven by the power of left-hand stride patterns that, in the trio, would make the bass player superfluous. Peterson finds joy in stride and uses modifications of the style to explode through “Take the ‘A’ Train” and sections of three blues. Even “Body and Soul” gets the treatment, and there’s a bit of stride samba in “Corcovado.”

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