This Oscar Peterson Trio showed the jazz world what the blues was all about. Aside from Peterson, the classic trio, led by Peterson, featured Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. Before Thigpen joined, the Trio was without drums and instead featured Herb Ellis on guitar. During the beginning of the 1950s, Ellis was replaced by drummer Charlie Smith; after that, another guitarist named Irving Ashby who used to perform with the Nat King Cole Trio. After Ashby came Barney Kessel. Ellis’ presence in the trio caused several problems, since it was a racially integrated group and many of the venues they played operated under segregationist policies. The same thing happened to the Dave Brubeck Quartet when they attempted to perform at a college where they were banned from playing because their bassist, Eugene Wright, was black.
The landmark album for the Oscar Peterson Trio was Night Train; an album recorded for Verve Records in 1962 and released a year later. They play several well-known standards including a couple of tunes written by Peterson. Blues and Soul are big parts of this album, if you listen to their rendition of “Georgia on My Mind” and Peterson’s own “Hymn to Freedom.” Standards such as “C-Jam Blues”, “Moten Swing” and “The Honeydripper” are simply “poppin’” as a lot of jazz musicians say. Another personal favorite of mine off this album is “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”, a slow blues that shows off that the Trio could go in any direction they wanted. The Italian classic “Volare” is also covered on the album.
Peterson often featured a fourth member to his trios, such as Stan Getz and Roy Eldridge. In the later years, when playing with Danish bassist Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen, he featured the Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius.
The Night Train album is a must-have in your record collection if you are serious about jazz. It is one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time. The trio released several albums with their Trio + 1 format; the most popular is with trumpeter Clark Terry, but he also released albums with saxophonist Ben Webster and vibraphonist Milt Jackson.
Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train
Oscar Peterson Trio – Thing’s Ain’t What They Used To Be
Oscar Peterson Trio with Clark Terry – Blues For Smedley
Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson – On Green Dolphin Street
Oscar Peterson Trio – Days of Wine and Roses
Oscar Peterson Trio covers the Music of “The Westside Story” – Maria