Picks and Pans Review: Two of the Few

updated 08/29/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/29/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Oscar Peterson and Milt Jackson

Two of the most effusive talents in jazz, pianist Peterson and vibraharpist Jackson make an inspired duo. Both express themselves in long, flowing lines rather than jolting stabs. Both are steeped in tradition—swing, blues, church music. Masters of harmonic color, they are also playful and ebullient improvisers not above the sudden impulsive quote or bit of buffoonery. They compound each other's virtues and even blunt one of the criticisms frequently leveled at Peterson—too many notes, signifying too little. Their partnership was forged spur-of-the-moment during a charity jam session at the 1982 Kool Jazz Festival in New York, and these new duets reflect the same spontaneity. They toss solos back and forth like flapjacks. The slow songs brim with feeling, while the fast ones, especially Just You, Just Me, escalate to dizzying heights. Especially pleasing are the counterpoint created during the statement of themes, the duo's stirring gusts of mutual improvisation, and Jackson's solos. The only disappointment is that Jackson tends to lay out during Peterson's intense eruptions. It would have been interesting to hear the effect of a few spare, well-placed vibraharp accents. Of course, such interjections wouldn't come easy; Peterson, revved up, is a dynamo. As Count Basie, a good friend of the pianist, has put it, "When Oscar gets finished, the piano is warm—very warm."

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