Oscar Peterson – Con Alma: The Oscar Peterson Trio – Live in Lugano, 1964

Mack Avenue – Street Date November 24th 2023 - CD/Vinyl/Digital
Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson’s formation with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen is widely regarded as Peterson’s “classic trio,” with fans considering it the most popular and sought-after trio in his long and illustrious career (featured on albums like 1963’s “Night Train” and 1964’s “We Get Requests”). Recorded during their creative peak in 1964 (five years into their collaboration), this previously unreleased and never-before-published live performance is destined to become a fan favorite in the Oscar Peterson archives. In his memoirs, Peterson reflects on the dedication that Ray and Ed brought to the group:
“In addition to our trio rehearsals, Ray would hold his own practice sessions in his room or in Ed’s, and they would simply work on ‘time.’ They developed a flexible and versatile rhythmic language that they could apply to any musical statement I might make and enhance any direction I might choose. In short, they practiced ‘all possibilities.'”
This is indeed what has made the success of the excellent label that is Mac Avenue, preserving the collective memory while offering new generations of jazz musicians a silver platter to showcase their talents. Lugano, in the southern part of Switzerland, in its Italian-speaking region where cultural diversity forms a unique richness, it’s no wonder that this concert is particularly magical. Even though Mack Avenue’s work on this recording is always remarkable, the sound from the Neumann microphones and Studer consoles of the time allows for a graceful cleanup and a pristine rendering, whether on CD or vinyl.
Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, acting here as skillful metronomes, allow their grace to shine like dancers on the opera stage, energized by an exceptionally warm audience that clearly marvels at the presence of these three jazz legends. “Con alma,” a standout track in the middle of this album, is particularly impressive. Depending on the moments, Oscar Peterson is more modern than ever, and it’s Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen who kick off the track, with Oscar Peterson weaving his way in between and atop the notes. Oscar Peterson’s music could very well have been composed today, and this album joins the two other marvels already released by Mac Avenue. In just six tracks, it fills us with joy and emotions. Much like the album by Bob James I mentioned recently, we are in the presence of jazz legends here, transcending what we typically consider essential. Beyond these considerations, this excellent album should be seen primarily as a document for today’s and future generations.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, October 4th 2023


To buy this album

Vinyl available here (November 24th 2023)