Online since August 2002

A superb experience

Reviewed March 2007

What's Up?: The Very Tall Band (Live)
What's Up?: The Very Tall Band (Live)
By Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Milt Jackson

Telarc Records: 2007

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Swing is the name of the game on the opening number of "What's Up?" by The Very Tall Band. The set, recorded live at New York City's Blue Note Jazz Club in 1998, features three esteemed jazz veterans, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and piano man Oscar Peterson. The music has a loose, good time, jam session feeling, an upbeat and bouncy journey into some jazz gems – Dizzy Gillespie's much recorded "Salt Peanuts" and Fletcher Henderson's "Soft Winds," a deep blues – Lester Young's "Ad Lib Blues" – and, of course, some serious swing time, on "Squatty Roo."

The music is packed with ebullient spontaneity, crafted on the fly by these seasoned pros. The seven tunes on the disc range in length from seven to ten minutes, giving both vibist Jackson and pianist Peterson ample room to improvise and play with some exquisite counterpoint in front of Brown's always solid pulse and unmatched sense of swing. The group is rounded out by drummer Karriem Riggins, whose impeccable yet extroverted timekeeping gives the sound a bit of a modern lean.

Sadly, a year after the sounds were laid down, Jackson passed; Brown left us in 2002; and Peterson has been slowed down of late with health problems. But "What's Up? catches the three jazz giants at the top of their game, crafting music from 'round about a hundred and fifty years of collective playing with everyone who was anyone in the jazz world.

A superb listening experience.

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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