An Oscar Peterson Christmas (Telarc)

Oscar Peterson

Released in 1995

JazzTimes 10 Classic Jazz Christmas Albums




Oscar Peterson and his six-piece combo are all business on Peterson’s 1995 Christmas recording, extolling the virtues of Peterson’s intelligent and seductive keyboard work as well as those of his knowing sidemen. The result is a triumphant set of 14 standards showcasing the group’s intricate interplay and tasty individual solos. The ensemble’s instrument mix—a discreet blend of vibes, flügelhorn, guitar, bass, drums, and piano—adds splashes of color and shading on classics such as “Let It Snow” when you least expect it. Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more knowing pianist. Peterson can be as sentimental as anyone, for example, on “White Christmas,” while also slowing a down-tempo melody even more to create an intoxicating vista. With ensemble pieces led by one of jazz’s living legends, Oscar’s refined holiday record lacks only a yule log and a nice, smooth merlot.

Track Listing:

1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 03:24

2. What Child Is This? (William Chatterton Dix / Traditional) 04:47

3. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne) 03:39

4. White Christmas (Irving Berlin)03:48

5. Jingle Bells (James Pierpont) 03:12

6. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Kim Gannon / Walter Kent / Buck Ram) 02:46

7. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (J. Fred Coots / Haven Gillespie) 03:28

8. O Little Town of Bethlehem (Phillip Brooks / Lewis Redner) 03:16

9. The Christmas Waltz (Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne) 06:50

10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Ralph Blane / Hugh Martin) 03:55

11. Silent Night (Franz Gruber / Joseph Mohr) 03:07

12. Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard / Ralph Blane / Hugh Martin / Dick Smith) 04:06

13. Away in a Manger (James R. Murray / Traditional) 03:33

14. O Christmas Tree (Traditional) 02:19


Oscar Peterson: piano

Jack Schantz: flugelhorn

Dave Samuels: vibraphone

Lorne Lofsky: guitar

David Young: bass

Jerry Fuller: drums

String Ensemble

Rick Wilkins: conductor

Recorded January 15-16, May 23-24, June 23 and July 30, 1995, at Manta/Eastern Studio A, Toronto, Canada

Additional recording at Master Sound Astoria, Astoria, New York and Commercial Recording Studios, Cleveland, Ohio

Producer: Elaine Martone and Robert Woods

Engineer: Jack Renner

Editing: Phillip Brooks

Mixing: Michael Bishop

Art Direction: Anilda Carrasquillo

Photography: Edward Gajdel


His second album recorded after a 1993 stroke finds Peterson uncharacteristically succinct and uncluttered on most of these tunes (with some triumphant returns to form on “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “Winter Wonderland”). But he’s still Oscar Peterson, full of tasty fills and blues licks, and even when he yields the lead to guests like vibraphonist Dave Samuels and flugelhornist Jack Schantz (or the string orchestra that blankets most of the record), he throws down swing as though issuing a challenge—one on which guitarist Lorne Lofsky, bassist David Young, and drummer Jerry Fuller happily take him up.

Michael J. West (JazzTimes)