Oscar Pettiford is a bass player from the generation prior to that of familiar bop era players such as Blanton and Mingus. Pettiford passed away in 1958 at the age of 37, further lending his name and reputation to an earlier era, but he sounds ahead of his time in his third recording for the Bethlehem label recorded in 1955. Assisted by Donald Byrd, Ernie Royal, Bob Brookmeyer, Gigi Gryce, Jerome Richardson, Don Abnet, and Osie Johnson, Pettiford leads a session that still sounds fresh today. He incorporates more Ellington than Gil Evans with a front line of horn players who would bridge the two halves of the twentieth century big band sound.
Of the Bethlehem reissues released to date by Pure Pleasure, this may be the most rewarding yet from a musical and sound quality perspective. It contains one of the greatest versions of the standard ‘Stardust’. It has a retro sound to the modern ear especially when played in a jazz setting, but hit big as a cross over hit with Willie Nelson. Yet Pettiford, like John Coltrane after him, turns in a timeless sounding rendition. The recording is among the Bethlehem’s best sounding, and Ray Staff of Air Mastering has given us what I expect is the best sounding version we can expect of this music.