Oscar Peterson’s Night Train

Oscar Peterson

I’ve written previously about Oscar Peterson twice already, mentioning his Exclusively For My Friends MPS box in my 25 Essential Jazz albums, and also reviewing Oscar Peterson Plays The Cole Porter Songbook. He is one of the three godfathers of the Piano Trio, together with Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett.

Peterson to me represents the archetype of the Jazz Trio type 3 of my personal classification (see here), that I called  It Don’t Mean A Thing if It Aint’ Got that Swing. 

If we needed another example to illustrate this, let’s take this Verve album from 1963, which actually was the second or third Peterson album I ever bought.

Night Train (Verve 1963)

You get classic Oscar Peterson here. The legendary trio with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, and produced by Norman Granz, who played an important role in Peterson’s career.

Oscar Peterson Trio Night Train 24 96 Verve 1963

The title track, Night Train, is a good warm-up, but things really start grooving with the great C-Jam blues, uptempo blues at it’s best.

The ballad standard Georgia On My Mind is probably one of the best versions I own. Bag’s Grove is obviously taken from Miles Davis, and honestly, here I prefer the original, the horse are missing a bit. That said, Ray Brown’s soloing manages to keep this song interesting.

Easy Does It is another one of my personal favorites on this album, in spite of it’s apparent simplicity. And then there is the final track, Hymn to Freedom, where Oscar Peterson opens the melody, but the relaxed swing that follows when Brown and Thipgen kicks in, make this track truly memorably.

The only criticism I have with this album is that the tracks are all a bit short. The trio really excels on longer tracks when each of the brilliant musicians get’s more time to solo.

Little anecdote: Apparently Night Train was one of the albums that made Diana Krall wanting to play Jazz (see video below). And she plays it quite well, although I still prefer the original.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (HDtracks)

Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)gmail.com

15 thoughts on “Oscar Peterson’s Night Train”

  1. Nice version by Krall. I note with some interest that she is playing on her husband Elvis Costello’s show ‘Spectacle’ here. So why is Elton John introducing her? Anyway, album’s now on the ‘must-listen’ list. thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes and to put a neat little bow on it, Krall and Costello got married at Elton’s house. I’m just reading Elvis’ autobiography. This post isn’t about him but I mention it as it’s a good read if you’re at all into him. Sorry for the hijack, back to your regularly scheduled program. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is just a very good record. Oscar, Ray and Ed are all over my jazz pile. Together and with others. I think I might spin this right now. Takes like this remind me of music I have and nudge me to it. Not that Oscar needs much nudging at my pad. He is in rotation but has so much material (and a high standard) that it’s nice to get back to one i haven’t listened to in a while.
    Couple notes. A friend of mines older brother was a piano player and an Oscar disciple. That’s how I found his music. The first album I got was him and Stephan Grappelli together. Love at first listen. So many great jazz pianists and Oscar is one of them. It’s always good to see a fellow Canadian make some noise (good noise) and get the recognition he deserves. Good piece on an album that should be in any music lovers collection.

    Like

      1. It made for good listening yesterday. Ellington always seems to turn up in a lot the music I love. Whether just in inspiration or his tunes being played by people like Oscar. I like Monk and Ellingtons piano sound but the players you mention (Peterson, Evans, Jarrett etc) give me just as much listening pleasure. A little smoother and cleaner to my ear. All good.
        Also you have to love the cover of the “Night Train’ album.

        Liked by 1 person

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