This album was an unexpected pleasure. The DCC vinyl pressing of the Oscar Peterson Trio's West Side Story is one of the finest sounding albums I've heard in a long time. Recorded live in January 1962, it sounds as if it was recorded yesterday. The clarity, dynamic range, and channel separation are breathtaking. If you close your eyes and listen, it's easy to picture the trio in front of you - Peterson's piano in the center, Ray Brown's upright bass planted firmly in the right channel, and Ed Thigpen's percussion and sublime brush work anchored in the left channel.

DCC seems bound and determined to make a name for themselves in audiophile circles these days, and rightfully so. They are releasing top quality products. As with DCC's Elton John and Creedence Clearwater Revival vinyl releases (also reviewed this month), there is virtually no surface noise heard at all. Peterson's interpretations of the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim compositions are outstanding - both sonically and musically. Each member of the trio has ample room for improvisation, and they take full advantage of it.

From the first notes of "Something's Coming", the trio cooks. Brown's thumping bass runs complement Peterson's piano flourishes perfectly. The arco bass work at the beginning of "Somewhere" is deep and full. As the song builds into the crescendo, the sound never distorts at all. In "Jet Song", all of the nuances of Brown's solo are evident. From the sounds of his fingers sliding up and down the strings, to the vibration of the strings on the fretboard, everything sounds warm and natural. Peterson's solo on "Tonight" is dazzling. You'll swear the man has more than 10 fingers. On "Reprise", the trio revisits each of the six earlier tracks, reminding you of just how good an acoustic jazz trio can sound.

© 1996 Steve Marshall