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The Very Tall Band Releases New Jazz Tracks

For fans of live jazz, it didn't get much better than a three-night stand by one very special band at New York's Blue Note nightclub in 1998. A group so special that Telarc Records has released new tracks from those shows on an album titled What's Up?, featuring the so-called "Very Tall Band." VOA's Doug Levine has more.

On a late-November weekend on West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village, hardy New Yorkers lined up to witness jazz history. For those lucky enough to get inside the 200-seat venue, there was no shortage of great music with three legendary jazz masters at center stage.

Meet The Very Tall Band: Pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Accompanied by young drummer Karriem Riggins, the band, while tall in stature, was even more impressive doing what they do best, improvising jazz.

This wasn't the first time these three jazz giants performed together. In 1961, The Oscar Peterson Trio, featuring Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums, teamed up with Milt Jackson for the album Very Tall.

Thirty-seven years later, and each in their 70s, The Very Tall Band proved that the magic was still there.

The new Telarc release picks up where the label's previous recording of the Blue Note concerts leaves off. It's no surprise to hear a group of such high caliber move with ease from Fletcher Henderson's touching "Soft Winds" to an all-out jam session on Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts."

The subsequent passing of Milt Jackson and Ray Brown gives the disc even greater significance. And with Oscar Peterson making only rare appearances these days, this Very Tall Band seems even larger than life.