3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
, November 7, 2009
This review is from: Live Montreux 77 (Audio CD)
This has to be considered one of the greatest jazz concerts ever recorded. All the artists are at the top of their game. Although there are only five cuts on the CD, every one is an absolute gem. From the very first notes Oscar plays on the opening track to the rousing closing rendezvous on the last, the playing of all involved will blow you away.
The opening cut, Ali and Frazier should have added Larry Holmes and George Foreman to the title. All four soloists, Peterson, Gillespie, Davis and Terry demonstrate why they are the giants of jazz. (Maybe I should have added Ken Norton, too, because NHOP also gets into the act). It starts at breakneck speed and never lets up. Every solo is energized; played with frenzy, going toe to toe. The musicians feed off each other and push each other to the limit. Even though Peterson's solo is brilliant (as usual), his play as accompanist is the best I've ever heard. And that is true for every song. He punctuates his accompaniment playing to perfection, complementing the other soloists. And they are every bit his equal. The result is a tour de force performance that will leave you breathless.
If I Were A Bell is next. While not at the torrid pace of Ali and Frazier, it nonetheless swings like few numbers do. Everyone gets into the act again. Lockjaw has some serious blowing on this cut. In fact, that is what is so great about this concert. Peterson, Gillespie, Davis and Terry get to showcase their considerable talent on every single cut, with Pederson getting in a few solos of his own as well.
The musicians take a bit of a breather on Ellington's Things Ain't What They Used To Be. The pace is a lazy, bluesy stroll. But don't let that fool you. They might have slowed the pace down but they certainly didn't take any time off. They all show that they can play the blues just as easily as the hard driving numbers. It ends with Peterson ushering in a musical tidal wave, inundating everything in its path, and then the gang lets the wave slowly ebb back out to sea.
The guys return to the hard swinging jazz on Just In Time. Again, their playing, timing, interplay is impeccable. NHOP on bass and Bobby Durham on drums supply the flawless rhythm section.
Which brings us to the last song of the set, Bye Bye Blues. From Peterson's first few blazing notes, the listener knows he/she is in for a treat. As on the initial track, everyone's blistering solo is a confirmation to their immense talent. And trust me, the sum is far greater than individual parts. Peterson's solo, and I do mean solo (the other musicians lay down their instruments for the moment) is one of those times when one simply shakes his head and laughs at the sheer insanity of someone playing like he does. Mind-boggling barely begins to describe it. The three horns join in and bring everyone home. Listen to the rhythm section as they close out the session. Durham, NHOP and Peterson are immaculate.
This CD smokes. There are no ballads on in this concert. The closest they come to catching their collective breaths is on the middle track. Other than that, it's full throttle. It's like running a marathon at 100 meter pace. As the curtain came down, I found myself literally exhausted. It was almost like having sex for an hour. I just sat back and said, "wow!" I wanted to reach for a cigarette, and I don't even smoke.
This CD is without a doubt a treasure for any fan of these giants. As stated earlier, they are all at the top of their game here. Peterson has never been better in a group session. And with some simply extraordinary playing, NHOP proves that he belongs right alongside the others in the annals of jazz. It's a shame that we will never see the likes of these artists again. Sadly, with the exception of Clark Terry, they have all passed away. But we can rejoice and revel in what they have left us. And this session certainly belongs at or near the top of the list.
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