Oscar Peterson: Blues for Big Scotia


Blues for Big Scotia


Oscar Peterson (piano)


Bursting Out with the All-Star Big Band + Swinging Brass (Verve 314 529 699-2)

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Oscar Peterson (piano), Ray Brown (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums),

and a thirteen piece band arranged by Russell Garcia


Composed by Oscar Peterson


Recorded: Hollywood, November 5, 1959


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Putdown master Miles Davis once said Oscar Peterson "had to learn to play the blues," as if other jazzmen sprang from mother's womb crying “Now’s the Time.” Besides, whether his blues was innate, studied or bought for $1 at W.C. Handy's garage sale, most pianists would trade their autographed picture of Meade Lux Lewis to play like Oscar on "Blues for Big Scotia." Less obsessively decorative than usual, Peterson is no less impressive. His powerful, 2-handed rolling tremolos are oceanic, crashing onshore with tsunami force. At the end, one expects Count Basie to float by, cheerfully exhorting "One more time!"

Caveat: In 1996, Verve reissued Bursting Out with the All-Star Big Band! (1962) and Swinging Brass (1959) as a CD twofer, using the same Bursting Out fireworks cover art as their 1990 CD reissue of Bursting Out by itself, and thus confusing consumers looking for Swinging Brass. Both albums featured the Oscar Peterson Trio in a big-band context, and each contained a respective version of "Blues for Big Scotia." The 1962 track is longer (nearly six minutes), but this review relates specifically to the shorter (<4 minutes), and we think superior, track from 1959.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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  • 1 ROSE // Dec 26, 2007 at 11:21 PM
  • 2 arnold // Jul 27, 2008 at 02:53 AM
    This song was dedicated to Oscar's first wife Lillian, who gave birth to five children. During that time the trio did over 200 concerts a year around the world, and upon returning home Oscar's close friend and bassist Ray Brown had the impression that Lillian, who came from Nova Scotia, was "always" pregnant. So he gave her the nickname: "Big Scotia." Oscar not only played this number with large orchestra's but also with his trio. A splendid version can be found in the 5-cd box-set "The London House Sessions" (1961) with a length of 6:50 minutes. In spite of the divorce Lillian and Oscar remained good friends. Needless to say that Miles hardly was the artist to judge on blues. Oscar's pianoplaying is full of blues, he composed many blues himself, also for other wives: "Sandy's Blues" and "Kelly's Blues".