The Mike Longo Trio Live – Celebrates Oscar Peterson – Consolidated Artists Productions CAP 1048, 74:54 ****:
(Mike Longo – piano; Paul West – bass; Ray Mosca – drums)
The association between Mike Longo and Oscar Peterson goes back to the early 1960s when Longo attended what was called the Advanced School Of Contemporary Music in Toronto which was founded by Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and another Canadian musician, clarinetist Phil Nimmons. The School, which was designed to educate and develop jazz musicians, operated for five years until the demands of touring by principally Peterson and Brown, made it impossible to maintain a teaching schedule. Clearly Longo was an adept pupil. This “homage” to Peterson and the music associated with him, is a very affecting declaration by Longo about his relationship with Oscar.
The music offered by Longo and his cohorts, is not designed to replicate the performances that Peterson played on these compositions, because that would not be possible. However the intent is to look with attachment on those tunes, and offer an interpretation that would be in keeping with Peterson’s musical ideas of the compositions. On that front Longo and the band have been more than successful. Starting off with a tasteful rendition of the Duke Ellington stalwart “Love You Madly”, the band finds an early groove that stays with them throughout the balance of this live session. Peterson’s album catalogue was so vast, that it was difficult to devise a set list that offered the broadest cross-section of these numbers.
An interesting combination of tunes is “Love For Sale” and “Tenderly” both of which Peterson recorded early in his career with the former completed in 1951 and the latter in 1953. Presented in order on this outing, Longo gives the first a Latin underpinning that evolves into a poetic sentiment and on the other, it starts off like the Peterson original, and then morphs into a number full of swing feeling that surely would please the maestro. Needless to say, Longo’s interpretation of this music is helped immeasurably by the solid bass work of Paul West and the in the moment time-keeping of drummer Ray Mosca. The final two tracks offer a pleasant artistic contrast with “I Remember You” covered as a ballad with much chordal invention, and the Clifford Brown classic “Daahoud” spun-out in up-tempo fashion in single-note style, with runs that cover the keyboard.
Ever mindful of avoiding imitation, Mike Longo and the band have put together a stellar program full of breezy intimacy and joyful swing.
TrackList: Love You Madly; Sweet Georgia Brown; A Child Is Born; Always; Fascinatin’ Rhythm; Love For Sale; Tenderly; Honeysuckle Rose; Yesterdays; Work Song; 52nd Street Theme; I Remember You; Daahoud