OSCAR PETERSON Soul Español (Verve) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
This swankily packaged 24-bit reissue of the samba-jazz cash-in Soul Español may not be a career benchmark in Oscar Peterson’s view — he didn’t recall cutting the Chicago session December 12 to 14, 1966, when I inquired about it last year — but it’s one of my favourites by the Canadian jazz icon. Recorded with his trio of the time — bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes — bolstered by Curtis Mayfield’s conga-bashing sideman Henley Gibson and Marshall Thompson fooling with timbales, Peterson roars through Jorge Ben’s Mas Que Nada and attacks Carioca at double time while putting his own dazzling spin on Luiz Bonfá’s Samba De Orfeo. He even drops in a couple of his own gently swinging surprises, namely the summery Soulville Samba. Lovely.