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Oscar Peterson: 'The Sound of the Trio'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hi, I'm Murray Horwitz. You know, it's always amazing to me how different a piano, a bass, and a set of drums can sound when they're played by different musicians. The jazz piano trio is where many fans of this music really dig in and just lose themselves. Some of the greatest jazz comes from that stripped-down and intimate sound. And today's entry into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library is one of the great jazz piano trios, and one of the great jazz trio piano recordings, The Sound of the Trio by Oscar Peterson.


HORWITZ: The Oscar Peterson Trio of 1961 was Peterson at the piano; Ray Brown, the bassist; and the drummer Ed Thigpen. Oscar Peterson has been quoted as saying, "The intensity of the playing with this trio left little room for second thoughts," and this CD is full of that unspoken communication among the musicians, the kind where they almost finish each other's musical sentences on the bandstand.


HORWITZ: Oscar Peterson is known for his prodigious technique at the piano, and his tremendous sense of swing. Bassist Ray Brown was still riding high from his work with the bebop masters of the 1940s and '50s. He and drummer Ed Thigpen often would hold rehearsals without the piano just to make sure they were as tight as possible, and you can hear it throughout this recording. You know, the 1960s were a time of some legendary small groups in jazz — The Modern Jazz Quartet, The Miles Davis Quintet, The John Coltrane Quartet — and this Oscar Peterson Trio ranks right there with them.


HORWITZ: A worthy addition to canon of jazz piano trio — Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Ed Thigpen on a CD called The Sound of the Trio. It's on the Verve label. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

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Murray Horwitz

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