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Oscar Peterson Quartet

- Jazz and Cabaret Performance Reviews

Oscar Peterson Quartet
At Birdland
315 West 44th Street, NYC
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager
See Other Birdland Reviews 1
See Other Birdland Reviews 2

Oscar Peterson on Piano
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on Bass
Alvin Queen on Drums
Ulf Wakenius on Guitar

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 14, 2004

Oscar Peterson is back and in rare form, thanks to Gianni Valenti and Birdland. With the backup trio of renowned bassist, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, guitarist Ulf Wakenius, and drummer, Alvin Queen, preparing the audience in one refrain, Peterson sat down for this opening night, second set, at the keyboard and tore into an entirely new song, and the audience went wild. There were tiny elements of Surrey with the Fringe on Top in the midst of contrasting melodies. Other pieces began in melancholy moods skipping through the keyboard with soft resonance. In fact, I have never felt Birdland so still and focused, all eyes and ears on the stage, with such a mesmerizing presence in command of his fans.

Peterson allowed Pedersen, Wakenius, and Queen to forge solos from and through his leads with fascinating musical frills. In Nighttime, composed by Peterson, we were brought inside his heart, as he played out his emotions of a long lost love. This was a quiet, reminiscent work, written with touching tenderness. The private, unspoken lyrics can only be imagined. Let’s Fall in Love, performed next in a much more upbeat and percussive fashion, close to a slow Swing, brought swift changes in keys and tones, ending in a jazzy fusion of frolicking notes. The jazzy, hot swing motif continued as the set closed in on the finish. Meandering notes up and down the keyboard fell like raindrops, to be followed by a thunderous quartet of popular, but rarified renditions. When Pedersen, on bass, took the lead in an ensuing piece, the powerful, percussive effects brought the audience to a groundswell of excitement.

One of the final songs began on piano, to the effect of a gospel organ, in accompaniment with lovely and lilting guitar riffs. Peterson soon gave way to the guitar lead, as he created a resonant chord-like background. The final piece of the night found Peterson humming along, as he became more and more relaxed in piano-scat style, merging with Wakenius’ guitar to form the tunes of a few songs, including Sweet Georgia Brown. An extended percussion solo by Queen ended the evening’s celebration of the return of Oscar Peterson and his Quartet.

The Oscar Peterson Quartet will continue at Birdland, “The Jazz Corner of the World”, through Saturday, June 19, with 2 sets each night at 9PM and 11 PM. Call 212.581.3080 to make reservations for dinner and jazz or even drinks and jazz, before it’s too late! This is a MUST-SEE jazz event. Tell Birdland you read about Oscar Peterson on

Oscar Peterson at the Piano
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers (See Ellington Orchestra Review)
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Ulf Wakenius and Alvin Queen
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

The Birdland Girls
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at