Oscar Peterson: Jet Song
Oscar Peterson (piano)
West Side Story (Verve/Polygram 539753)
Composed by Leonard Bernstein.
Recorded: New York, January 24-25, 1962
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
By 1962, the second Oscar Peterson Trio – guitar jettisoned, but retaining Ray Brown and adding Ed Thigpen – was well established and running smoothly, a 4-on-the-floor mean machine, racing quickly through studio sessions and live dates yet still somehow usually generating solid jazz. For their minimally planned West Side Story LP, the guys gathered in the studio, checked the lead sheets, noodled around on a couple of other tunes, went away, then came back to jam through a handful of sharp, casually arranged, Jet Assisted Take Off versions. So naturally one of the Trio's best is "Jet Song."
A slightly florid opening by OP and Ray becomes solid 4/4 walking as Ed joins in. Oscar keeps stepping lightly, the insouciant gang lead, but his solo soon gets soulful – yes, he goes to church! – slapping and chording, roaming up and down the keyboard (all Jets left dumbfounded on the street corner). Ray rejoins and Ed keeps it swinging, while Oscar gets busier, does some finger-busting for a moment, then yields to Ray, who supplies a swaggering solo, a richly varied lesson on the big instrument with plucks and strums and some bass-ic walk-around too. Which inspires OP to take charge once more; and now he stomps it on out, right back to the gang's genial theme, our three wiseguys finally slowing and drifting to silence. Check it: a splendid 7+ minutes of street-cred jazz.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher