Oscar Peterson The Songbooks

At five discs and almost six hours, The Songbooks might seem like a demanding listen. But drop it into your player and it's nearly impossible to turn off. Recorded from July to August 1959 by Oscar Peterson and what would soon be known as his classic trio — Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums — this collection of tin-pan alley standards is quite remarkable. The compositions by the likes of Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern are well-known standards to most, so what's most surprising and interesting about Peterson's interpretations is that he wisely doesn't try and transcend the source material. The vibe is one of joviality — the supple and amiable interplay between the trio gives gems like Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" and Rodgers' "The Lady Is A Tramp" a fresh shine. Even if you're not familiar with these songs, by the time you get to the Ellington disc, you'll be hooked. (Verve)