Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Album of the week – The Sound of the Trio by Oscar Peterson

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This is the first or second album I ever heard by this Canadian jazz giant who soon made the world his stage. Oscar Peterson started out by learning Art Tatum piano solos note for note. He was puzzled when asked to show what he could do on his own. He soon rectified that, developing a driving, blues-based delivery, wherein he exhibited astonishing speed, impeccable taste, and loving interplay with his fellow musicians. All these qualities are on display on The Sound of the Trio. It’s his working trio of Ray Brown, bass, and Ed Thigpen, drums, at a gig in Chicago’s London House restaurant.

Jazz musicians frequently complain about the sounds of forks and knives during their playing at supper clubs, but Dom Cerulli’s liner notes celebrate the sound of these jazz-loving gourmands, and I always felt it works well with this trio. Certainly there’s no disrespectful chatter; all the audience displays rapt attention, even during the bass solos.

I’ve picked out the rarely-played Oscar Pettiford piece, ''Tricrotism,'' as an example of the album. It starts out as a dialog twixt piano and bass, but soon swings like mad. For those who notice the hole on the top left end of the cover, I reiterate here that my brother and I drilled these holes for a record storage scheme one summer. This is not a cut-out!

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