Impressive reissue: Astaire, Peterson's classic jazz package - The Buffalo News

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Impressive reissue: Astaire, Peterson's classic jazz package

Jazz

Fred Astaire and Oscar Peterson, "The Astaire Story" (Verve, two discs).

This, from 1952, is one of the greatest packages in the history of recorded jazz. And all the music from it is here on this reissue, including two bonus tracks--an alternate of "I Won't Dance" and a second version of the astonishing Astaire-less prestissimo rocket blues by Oscar Peterson that served as the set's "Overture." I still think that bids fair to be the fastest tempo you will ever hear on a jazz record. And I'll bet Astaire loved it introducing him, considering how buttoned up Oscar had to be elsewhere on their collaboration.

Songwriters loved Astaire so much that many considered him their favorite singer of their own works. That's because Astaire loved singing songs absolutely straight with every word coming across and with Astaire's ingratiating personality putting everything across.

To have him appear in two hours and 14 minutes of music with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic bunch was one of the great musical meetings on American records (almost up there with Granz's mating on record of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.)

But this eternal classic--whose music couldn't possibly be recommended more highly--does one terrible thing that Verve is doing more and more often these days on some of its greatest past music: it eliminates all the written disc notes. So you won't know who's in this astonishing band: Peterson on piano, Flip Phillips on tenor saxophone, Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Barney Kessel on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Alvin Stoller on drums.

As long as American music exists, this will always be a classic.

4 stars (out of four) for music, 1.5 stars for packaging.

Email: jsimon@buffnews.com

 

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