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Skol

Oscar Peterson + Stephane Grappelli

Original Jazz Classics Remasters 2013

Review by David Bowling

Oscar Peterson was a giant of jazz. From the late 1940’s until his death in 2007, he produced a body of work that was not only of the highest quality due its improvisational nature but very approachable as he was more melodic than many of his contemporaries.

Stephane Grappelli’s first claim to fame came during the 1930’s when he was part of a quintet with legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. He blended classical elements into his music as he paved the way for the violin to be recognized as a jazz instrument.

On July 6, 1979, pianist Peterson and violinist Grappelli took the stage at the Trivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark and the tape was running. They were joined by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson, and drummer Mickey Rokey. The results of the concert have now been re-released as a part of the ongoing Original Jazz Classics Remasters Series.  Skol has been enhanced with three previously unreleased bonus tracks.

One should be aware that the concert had two distinct parts. The first half featured Grappelli, Pass, and Pederson, while the second half added Peterson and Roker to the mix.

While all the musicians step forward to solo from time to time, it is Grappelli who is the star of the show.

The best track is a poignant rendition of Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages” with Peterson’s laid back solo followed by incredible work by Grappelli. “Skol Blues” is a rare jazz statement where a pianist and violinist play off of each other. “Makin’ Whoopee,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and “That’s All,” are vehicles for each instrumentalist to solo as Grappelli ties everything together.

The three bonus tracks from the concert are seeing the light of day for the first time. Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” has Peterson in the middle and Grappelli finishing. There is a laid back version of Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose.” In some ways it is guitarist Joe Pass who is the glue on many of the songs and nowhere is this more apparent then on “I Got Rhythm” where he not only provides a foundation but on his solo adds some bars from “Salt Peanuts.”

As with all the releases in the series the production and sound quality are impeccable. The enclosed booklet gives a nice overview of the concert and music.

Thirty-four years have passed since these artists took the stage together, yet the music retains its sheen. A must release for any jazz aficionado.

Rating: ****

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