Swingin’ with/avec Oscar
The Music of Oscar Peterson
The Music of Oscar Peterson
Rémi Bolduc – alto saxophone
Taurey Butler – piano
Fraser Hollins – bass
Dave Laing – drums
Label: Art and Soul Productions.
“A few years after his tribute project to the great pianist Dave Brubeck in Hommage à Dave Brubeck, Rémi Bolduc and his band have embarked on a new tribute to a renowned pianist, this time focusing on Montrealer Oscar Peterson. The challenge is different from the last project: Brubeck regularly played with a saxophonist, which was not the case with Peterson. The result is an album of ten pieces, including eight Oscar Peterson compositions, specially arranged for a quartet that includes pianist Taurey Butler, an American who was seduced by Montreal a few years ago.
The album kicks off with Noreen’s Nocturne. This version is slower than those played by Peterson and his trio (especially when compared to live performances), which makes it easier to appreciate the melodic qualities of the piece. It quickly becomes clear that all the musicians have a great chemistry in the quartet, and Butler fits in very well, picking up a fingering reminiscent of the great Oscar, who passed away 10 years ago.
Bossa Beguine, just after, presents a version to which the sax really adds something. The cover of the standards I’ve Never Been in Love Before and The Touch of Your Lips, as well as the beautiful Samba Sensitive, also leave plenty of room for Rémi Bolduc’s musicality. In other cases, such as For Count and Laurentide Waltz, it’s Taurey Butler who takes center stage. This is particularly successful in Laurentide Waltz, with a more sentimental version than the original, which doesn’t prevent the other musicians from intervening in the second half.
Then there are tracks like Riff Blues and Cakewalk, which serve more to showcase the musicians’ virtuosity than to charm our ears. There’s also the unmissable Place St. Henri, Oscar Peterson’s most famous composition. This version, slower than the original, is still very virtuoso, but doesn’t leave as much of a mark on the imagination as the legendary Oscar’s, or even Oliver Jones’, who appropriated it years ago.
To “sum up” Oscar Peterson’s talent in ten tracks was quite a challenge for the Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble, but we can say that the result is quite successful: the cohesion and complicity of the members are worthy of those of the Oscar Peterson Trio, and the choice of pianist was perfectly justified. As for the arrangements, Rémi Bolduc has done his homework, letting everyone shine a little. Swingin’ with Oscar hits the bull’s-eye on several occasions and offers some versions that deserve to remain in the collective imagination.” ~ by Olivier Dénommée (translated from french)