Oscar Peterson & The Trumpet Kings
Oscar Peterson with Louis Bellson & John Heard
The London Concert
recorded ##2,4,7,8 - Dec 8,12, 1974; ## 1,9 - May 18, 1975;
##3,6 - Dec 29, 1974; #5 - June 5, 1975
This album contains nine previously unissued performances from the sessions that resulted in Oscar Peterson's five duet albums with great trumpeters. Clark Terry, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie and Harry "Sweets" Edison are heard on two songs apiece while Jon Faddis pops up on one duet. Eldridge's combative "Crazy Rhythm" and Faddis's "Oakland Blues" are highpoints although fans of this interesting series will want all of this often heated music.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
In jazz the challenge of the duologue has generally been rejected lor the most practical of reasons, that it is a form difficult very nearly to the point of being impossible. Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang conducted a few enlightening exchanges, but these, featuring two guitars, were less duologues than duets. Venuti and Lang strictly speaking achieved duologues, but the resemblance in timbre between two stringed instruments virtually reduced the nature of the exercise a duet. Trumbauer and Beiderbecke, abetted by Lang, very nearly committed themselves to duologue once or twice, while the Duke Ellington-Jimmy Blanton sides were certainly authentic duologues of the most revelatory kind, perhaps the most brilliant of that whole genre which began in 1927 when Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines, in recording Weather Bird, left posterity the most profound of clues, to the effect that instrumental differentiation is less decisive than we think, provided the players are examining the landscape through the same window.
But if the Armstrong-Hines partnership was the most influential in the symbolic sense, being the first of any aesthetic importance, and if the Ellington-Blanton sides were the most profound in that they signaled that the course of history was about to be changed on behalf of the one of the two instruments involved, there is no question that the most comprehensive examination of the art of the jazz duologue to date was the one embarked upon by Oscar Peterson in 1974-75, in which he recorded works with five contemporary trumpeters. 1 he albums which emerged from these sessions were all memorable, offering a fascinating example of how, within the rigid constraints of the form, both parties to the duologue can extend the limits of their own self-expression, the pianist by drifting in and out of the role of accompanist, either to himself or his partner, and the trumpeter by varying the tone of his voice by recourse to mutes.
What is even more important is that the Peterson trumpet series produced five albums which were not simply memorable, but memorable in five quite distinct ways. The point about jazz which can never be made too often is its exaltation of the individual voice; in effect it is the musical manifestation of the cult of personality. Peterson performed his duologues with five very different men, and no student of the five linked but independent events could fail to be struck by the element of enlightenment contained by the contrasts between the five. To hear the differences scattered across a series of albums was, and still is, a musical education in itself, To hear them as we now do on this one album, to hear five intimate conversations compressed, as it were, within the walls of a single room, is in a way even more stimulating, because the concentrated essence of the exercise gives the differences a heightened immediacy. What we find is Peterson exchanging musical views with five men committed to five distinct lifestyles. I he first of them, playing a blues, Danish Pastry, and an old ballad. Trust in Me," is: Clark Terry, Duke Ellingtons Puck, the trum peter who above all others in jazz whose comic garrulity at fast tempos and subtle inflections at slower ones lends to his solos the overtones of bright or poignant conver-sation; the last chorus of Trust in Me would be the simplest thing to write a libretto to. I he balance to Terrys calculated verbosity in this album is provided by the player who, in Dickensian terms, might be said to play Fogg to Clark Terry's Dodson: Harry Edison. The two arts represented by Edison 's playing are those of concision and that hallmark of the great soloist, the ceremony of the dragging of the feet, the ever so slight pulling back of the phrase behind the beat. For 40 years Edison has seemed to dice with death by withholding the end of a phrase until it threatens to breach the cohesion of the next one, but a consummate sense of time always sees him through. As for his ability to express pungent ideas with a minimal number of notes, his is the obverse of the Clark Terry method, a player whose comprehensive technique is masked by the pretense that he doesn't often require it. Both he and Terry display stylistic roots which hint at an age of jazz sometimes laughingly described as pre-modern, an age whose move into a heightened harmonic sophistication was implemented by the third trumpet voice on this album.
Roy Eldridge- One of the most influential trumpeters in jazz history, Eldridge has offered a model example of how the enfant terrible of one generation can become the elder statesman of the next. And although he usually starts out with the best intentions to be prudent regarding the technical devices of his flaming, youth, that is the higher register, Eldridge can never resist one more trip up into the stratosphere. His solo in Crazy Rhythm is a good example of the decorous start building into a riotous finish. He is a rare example of the man who copied nobody and influenced almost everybody including as a youth, the fourth of our trumpeters.
Dizzy Gillespie, who introduced into the jazz language a new approach to the standard ballads, often using a mute to imply the banded fires of emotion, as in Stella by Starlight, and transforming the original romantic intention by superimposing what were once harmonic heresies but are seen today to be governed by scrupulous logic. Gillespie too influenced whole generations of trumpeters, and like all masters, has some brilliant disciples, including: Jon Faddis, whose placement of the notes in the opening chorus of Oakland Blues is so reminiscent of Dizzy as to be a wordless tribute to him. Later too, when the performance becomes an exhibition of high register screaming, the ambience is that of Dizzy, although like all virtuosi Faddis retains his individuality by displaying a tone subtly different from that of his master; some of the sustained high notes have a reedy, piping quality quite unlike Dizzy's brassy authority.
All five men are the guests of the house pianist, Oscar Peterson, of whom everything worth saying has already been said umpteen times, and of whose performances on this album I can only add that after I hear his first four bars behind Terry's trumpet in the first chorus of Trust in Me, I decided that this fragment atone justified the expenditure tor the entire album, and that all the rest of the delights were in the nature of a free gift.