Dean Stockdale Plays Oscar Peterson @ The Cherry Tree, March 2013
This gig was generally advertised as Dean Stockdale plays Oscar Peterson, which seemed a bit of a mis-match, as Dean looked young and quite fit whereas the last time I saw Oscar he was definitely carrying a few extra pounds and rumour had it he hadn't picked up a tennis racket for years. So I was pretty sure this gig wasn't going to go the full five sets. However as it happened, the encounter never got to even a tie-break as the Big Man didn't show and Dean had to play for both of them - and boy, didn't he do a good job! I have to say I'm a big fan of these gigs where local musicians explore the music of a particular jazz artist, as it's a great way to re-engage with the musician's work. Previous shows dedicated to Miles, Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk have had me digging out old albums and CDs and listening again with great enjoyment (and of course we shouldn't forget Djangologie, who do a great job with the Hot Club style). And I'm hopeful that the gigs playing the music of Charlie Mingus and John Coltrane will come around again (at the Cherrytree , maybe?) The added bonus is that you also get a potted history of the musician's life and work, which for me at least, adds greatly to the overall effect.
Dean started the evening by immediately addressing the standard image of Peterson as a big man in a stylish suit playing the piano brilliantly, but at 90 miles an hour - 'the fast fingered Canadian' as one person has described him. He talked about the quality of his compositional skills based on his classical training, but also how he was rooted in the blues. This was illustrated very nicely by the first number, Kelly's Blues. Then Dean talked about the purpose of Etudes in classical music that are used to demonstrate a particular technique, and he described how Oscar had written many of these from a jazz intonation which he illustrated with Blues Etude. The next piece was based in Peterson's love of his homeland and was from a longer work called Canadia and this was followed by a beautifully complex (and mainly solo) version of Body and Soul (the 'granddaddy of all standards' Dean claimed, somewhat controversially). These first four pieces demonstrated perfectly the variety and subtlety of Peterson's work and were very well played. We then had Sushi written for a tour of Japan and a beautiful jazz waltz, Love Ballade, written for his daughter, Celine. These were followed by Cakewalk, which Peterson wrote after his stroke in 1993 when his left hand was quite badly affected. It still sounded pretty good to me. However, my favourite was from one of Peterson's most well known albums, Night Train, and the track he played was Hymn to Freedom. I was immediately transported back 40 years to the back room in my friend's house where we used gather in the early hours of the morning to listen to jazz. He had a complex sound system of a turntable wired into a four-foot high speaker he had built himself and then into an old valve radio to give a pseudo stereo effect and he always managed to procure key jazz albums. Night Train was one of those and Hymn to Freedom was a bit of an anthem at the time. At the end of the first set Dean introduced the ever-dependable Neil Harland on bass and Stuart on drums, who was sitting in very competently for the indisposed Paul Smith. I didn't catch his second name (if it was mentioned) but maybe he just has one name, like Sting or Bono. Unfortunately, circumstances decreed that I had to leave early in the second set but in certainly sounded as if this was going to provide an equal number of delights. I left the Cherrytree with the final notes of Georgia on my Mind, again from Night Train, pursuing me out the door. As usual, the food and service were of a high standard, so overall a great night.
Review By JC, Bebop Spoken Here
The music of Oscar Peterson @ Ashington Jazz Club, August 2013
With the passing of time and the years sadly our Jazz Artistes pass away, as you will have noticed in Bebop Spoken Here. Fortunately they leave behind a legacy of great recorded music which remind us of our younger maturing years, while today through the media we can still look back and recall so many talented performers. It is also a delight to know that their music and styles can influence younger musicians today across the world and also here in the North East. These talented youngsters keep our music alive and we are grateful for this.
The AJC, therefore anticipated something special on Wednesday when the Dean Stockdale Trio gave a reflection of the life and music of Oscar Peterson.
We were not disappointed and with instrumentalists of this calibre our nostalgia was rewarded and our musical appetites nourished. Dean impressed on his Nord Piano and with skillful support from Neil Harland on Bass and Steve Doyle as percussionist our imaginations were aroused with superb renditions of O.P. memories. Personally I could have listened much longer to this brilliant ensemble working together as a team but the first set ended leaving us time to assess what we had just heard. Brilliant.
Programme - Blues Etude, Canadian Suite-Wheatland, Suchi, When Summer Comes, Kelly's Blues, Love Ballad, Cake Walk, and Hymn to Freedom.
Review by Peter S for Bebop Spoken Here