Oscar Peterson, piano – Exclusively for my Friends, Volumes I, II & III – ****

by | May 24, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Vol. I – Action – MPS Stereo-only hybrid SACD B0002228-16:
Vol. II – Girl Talk – MPS Stereo-only hybrid SACD B0002231-16:
Vol. III – The Way I Really Play – MPS Stereo-only hybrid SACD B0002233-16:

These are the SACD reissues of three of the six albums making up a very
unusual addition to the large Oscar Peterson discography. The original
tapes were discovered by someone who was evidently connected with the
German MPS label. They were recorded by Peterson with whatever rhythm
section he was traveling with at the time, in the private home of Hans
Georg Brunner-Schwer in Germany. Brunner-Schwer was a skilled tape
recordist and he obtained sonics nearly as good as Peterson’s
commercial recordings. He used professional Ampex open reel decks. No
wire-recorder-sourced reissues here as with Charlie Parker! Since they
were good friends and the recordings were strictly for his and
Peterson’s use and not for distribution, Peterson and his record label
gave permission for the recordings. (That probably wouldn’t happen
today!)

Feeling that the tapes were often even more exciting than the
commercial recordings, MPS worked out the legal details to release
them. Now they feel they are good enough to reissue on these stereo
SACDs, and the sound is exceptional. Those in attendance are very
quiet, and Peterson sounds very relaxed in the home setting. His
bassists are either Ray Brown or Sam Jones, and his drummers either Ed
Thigpen, Bob Durham or Louis Hayes. The piano tone is fine, and the
balance with the bass and drums is good. The original detailed liner
notes are reduced and reproduced in the note booklets but they are
unreadable. But there’s one strange thing in the mix: The bass and
drums are confined entirely to the far left of the soundstage – there
is no hint of them on the right channel. The treble end of the keyboard
is strong in the right channel, with the lower end centered between the
speakers. A small quirk in this wonderfully intimate collection of
performances by the greatest living jazz pianist!

Vol. I Tracks: At Long Last Love, Easy Walker, Tin Tin Deo, I’ve Got a
Crush on You, A Foggy Day, Like Someone in Love
Vol. II Tracks: On a Clear Day, I’m In the Mood for Love, Girl Talk,
Medley: I Concentrate on You/Moon River, Robbin’s Nest
Vol. III Tracks: Waltzing Is Hip, Satin Doll, Love Is Here to Stay,
Sandy’s Blues, Alice in Wonderland, Noreen’s Nocturne.

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