Pablo Of The Week: The Trio

Strange title, eh?

The cognoscenti know about this treasure trove of amazing jazz music on LP that can often be picked up for $4-6 per title at used record stores. If I saunter into a record shop, especially in a new town (if I’m on holiday, for instance), I’ll often sift through and just buy up all the Pablos if they’re in good condition. Sure, I’ll get seconds and thirds (or more) of titles I already have – but they make great gifts, and I sometimes wind up getting even better copies of ones in the collection. Caveat: most times the vinyl is in great condition but the jackets look like they’ve been left in weather for a month).

Pablo is one of Norman Granz’s labels, and I’m also a fan of Granz. He used the bully pulpit of his labels and concert promotion machine as a way to ensure that his musicians were paid reasonably well (demanding that black and white musicians were paid equally), and he was ever the civil-rights activist – never taking his crew to places where segregation was the statutory obligation. He was an ardent anti-racist and a good friend to his musicians. He was a man who put his money where his mouth was, and that is a rare breed indeed.

When Casals (then age 93) was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

As many (if not most) of the musicians that previously performed in his Jazz At The Philharmonic series or on his Verve label were aging, they became less in demand and in danger of being completely marginalized. Here they were, some of the absolute giants of the idiom, being pushed to the side at a time in their lives when they were peaking in their musical understanding. Looking back on a lifetime of music, they could say – “That was what we said – this is what we meant” – this kind of treasure is invisible to all but those sensitively attuned. This is echoed by classical cellist, Pablo Casals, in his oft-cited quote: When Casals (then age 93) was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

Bringing together acts that he was still managing, Granz founded Pablo in 1973 and the catalog of recordings that demonstrated, unmistakably, that these musicians were far from finished.

This week’s “Pablo Of The Week” is from one of the artists and records that Granz started the label with: The Oscar Peterson Trio

The record: “The Trio” – recorded live at London House, Chicago, 1973.

  • Oscar Peterson: Piano
  • Joe Pass: Guitar
  • Neil Henning Øersted Pedersen: Bass

It can be argued, especially by me, that these three musicians are among the absolute best ever to touch their respective instruments acting, as they could, as unpolluted conduits for the soul of the music they were playing. That is to say – though each could be considered technical masters – none of them were mere technicians, and thus all three can and should serve (in my estimation) as models whose technical monstrosity was always in service to the music itself – and not the other way around. And this leads, at least in spirit, to the following warning:

Audiophiles Beware!

This is not a sound effects record, you will not get your jollies pointing out the imaging, sound-staging, liquid this, crystalline that, stygian the other … this is an album containing some of the most delightfully and beautifully rendered jazz-blues you may ever set your ears on, and for the music-lover the precious prize inside utterly earns the closing remarks that Benny Green wrote on the album’s liner notes:

“It is in fact jazz which is perfect without being soulless, and for that combination of virtues we spend far too great a proportion of our lives siting around waiting.”

I picked up my flawless copy at a record-swap a couple of years back, held at the Capital Audio Fest in Virginia … $4.00

As I spin it this morning I’m reminded just how amazing music can change your attitude and emotional grip on the day.

I’m about to have a beautiful day …

Chris Sommovigo loves music, enjoys audio, designs cables, seeks Truth. Since the mid 1980's he has been on both sides of the microphone, all sides of the industry, prefers tubes and vinyl, appreciates and respects solid state and digital, and will make great efforts to be present for a wonderful meal. Aside from this present foray into editorial life, Chris remains a small-scale manufacturer, importer, and specialized retailer and has recently started taking guitar lessons again after a 32-year hiatus.

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