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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Very Tall

American Jazz Classics 99047



1. On Green Dolphin Street
2. Heartstrings
3. Work Song
4. John Brown's Body
5. A Wonderful Guy
6. Reunion Blues
7. On Green Dolphin Street (live at the London House)
8. On Green Dolphin Street (live at L'Olympia)
9. Heartstrings (original Milt Jackson version)

Oscar Peterson - Piano (tracks 1-8)
Milt Jackson - Vibes (tracks 1-6, 9)
Ray Brown - Bass (tracks 1-8)
Ed Thigpen - Drums (tracks 1-8)
Joe Newman - Trumpet (track 9)
Jimmy Cleveland - Trombone (track 9)
Cannonball Adderley - Alto sax (track 9)
Frank Foster - Tenor sax (track 9)
Sahib Shihab - Baritone sax (track 9)
Horace Silver - Piano (track 9)
Percy Heath - Bass (track 9)
Art Blakey - Drums (track 9)


This album (or at least the first six tracks) was recorded in 1961, some years after Milt Jackson had started as a key member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. This may explain the rather subdued nature of some of the playing. It was the first time that Oscar Peterson had recorded with Milt Jackson, although Milt knew Ray Brown from their years together in Dizzy Gillespie's big band. One senses Peterson holding back slightly, perhaps trying to fit in with what he regarded as the sophisticated style of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Indeed, with Ray Brown playing arco at the start, Heartstrings sounds very like a piece by the MJQ.

Yet both Oscar and Milt shared a deep feeling for the blues and this emerges in such tracks as Work Song and Reunion Blues. Oscar seems to let himself go in Work Song. Reunion Blues was composed by Milt Jackson but it subsequently became a regular feature in Peterson's repertoire. John Brown's Body has a down-home feel to it, and A Wonderful Guy is a delightfully lilting waltz. Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen provide immaculate rhythm behind Oscar and Milt.

Even if some of the playing in this album seems restrained, Oscar and Milt must have enjoyed the experience, as they often played together in later years.

The original six tracks are supplemented by three fillers: two versions of On Green Dolphin Street performed by the Oscar Peterson Trio, and the original version of Heartstrings recorded in 1957 by Milt Jackson leading a nonet in an arrangement by Quincy Jones. It is interesting to compare the two extra versions of On Green Dolphin Street, which have similarities but subtle differences. Peterson starts them both melodramatically, with swirling chords, but thereafter his improvisations differ noticeably. The extra version of Heartstrings underlines its resemblance to Yesterdays, which shares its poignant yearning.

Tony Augarde

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