Oscar Peterson: Sometimes I'm Happy


Sometimes I'm Happy


Oscar Peterson Trio


The Trio (Verve 731453906327)

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

(composed by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar)


Recorded: live, "London House", Chicago, July 29, 1961


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

“Sometimes I’m Happy” is one of the few tracks that I know on many Oscar Peterson records where the trio actually just stretches out. There’s really not much of an arrangement...well, only a slight arrangement (Oscar Peterson plays Lester Young’s famous solo as an intro, but then for the rest of the way they’re just blowing. The track is 11½ minutes, and it’s just Oscar, Ray Brown, and Ed Thigpen blowing the whole way. To me, not only is it a great Ray Brown track, but but also because the Oscar Peterson Trio is always known for their surgical execution of all of these difficult soli passages, and their almost gymnastic-like technique on all of their instruments, and trhis is one of the few tracks I can think of where everybody is not doing that. It’s almost like a Bradley’s gig. They’re just in the pocket, having a good time, and Ray Brown stretches out and takes a very, very long solo which is very melodic. I've always loved listening to this track just for the fact they’re all stretching out, having a good time, and not particularly playing a difficult arrangement as they were accustomed to doing in that trio.

Someone once asked Oscar Peterson what was the difference with Ray Brown before and after the drummer. He said that he found that Ray’s notes got longer once Ed Thigpen joined the trio. But when I listen to Ray before Ed Thigpen, when it was just Herb Ellis on guitar, to me his notes were still much more elongated than his peers. When you listen to a lot of bass players from the mid and late ‘50s, the notes were very short. Everybody used gut strings at that time. Everybody had pretty high action, where you get that real percussive sound on the bass. But to me Ray always had a nice balance between that percussive sound and a very ringing, melodic sound. I’ve always felt he had that in the trio, even before the drums. His time was always impeccable---you could set your pacemaker to him in the trio before Ed joined. Of course, his time feel was much more exposed without the drums, which I think is a great study, particularly for bass players learning how to strengthen their time. Ray was the master of that.

Reviewer: Christian McBride

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