From Washington, DC:
The other morning I was pawing through my CD collection, looking for something to accompany my pre-work meal when I came upon The Oscar Peterson Trio at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival.
I put it on and, in seconds, was reminded why that recording has stayed near the top of my all-time best list for nearly 50 years. For sheer head-long momentum, nothing I have ever heard can match it. Peterson has headed some notable trios, but the Herbie Ellis-Ray Brown edition beats ’em all.
The chemistry among those three guys bordered on the miraculous. And I defy anyone to show me how any other three people ever achieved grooves of that incredible depth.
I bought the LP in the winter of ’57-’58 while stationed with the Air Force in Fairbanks, Alaska. My roommate for part of that year was the drummer Roy McCurdy. As wonderful a drummer as he is – and as partial to his instrument as he is – he had to admit that he couldn’t imagine how the group could swing any harder with the addition of a drummer.
As I listened to the trio this week, to tunes like “Gypsy in My Soul”, “Love You Madly” and “Noreen’s Nocturne”, they produced the same reactions in me they did nearly a half-century ago–laugh-out-loud amazement and delight. That, it seems to me, is one definition of great art.