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Oscar Peterson

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson (15 August 1925 – 23 December 2007)  Canadian jazz pianist and composer.oscar peterson


Oscar Peterson is considered by some critics to be one of the greatest jazz piano players of all time. His virtuosity and command of the piano have routinely stunned audiences worldwide for more than fifty years.

Biography

Oscar Peterson grew up in the harsh streets of Petite-Bourgogne which at the time was an area filled with drugs, violence and poverty (the area is also known as Little Burgundy). It was in this predominantly black neighborhood that he found himself surrounded by the jazz culture which flourished in the early 20th century. At a time when racial tensions had their grip on America, La Petite-Bourgogne was known as a haven for many wonderful African-American artists. Thus, it was here that Oscar began honing his skills with the trumpet and piano which he started at the age of five. However, by the age of seven, after a bout of tuberculosis, he directed all his attention to the piano. Some of the artists who influenced Peterson during the early years were Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole, James P.Johnson and the legendary Art Tatum, to whom many have tried to compare Peterson in later years. In fact, one of his first exposures to the musical talents of Art Tatum came early in his teen years when his father played Art Tatum's Tiger Rag for him, and Peterson was so intimidated by what he heard that he allegedly restrained himself from touching the piano for nearly two months.oscar peterson

Peterson has also credited his sister Daisy, a noted piano teacher in Montreal who also taught several other noted Canadian jazz musicians, with being an important teacher and influence on his career.

He soon developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive jazz pianist, and became a regular on Canadian radio. His United States introduction was at Carnegie Hall, New York City in 1949 by Norman Granz; owing to union restrictions his appearance could not be billed.

An important step in his career was joining impresario Norman Granz's labels (especially Verve records) and Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic package. Granz discovered Peterson in a peculiar manner: as the impresario was being taken to the Montreal airport by cab, the radio was playing a live broadcast of Oscar Peterson at a local night club. He was so smitten by what he heard that he ordered the driver to take him to the club so he could meet the pianist. So was born a lasting relationship, and Granz remained Peterson's manager for much of the latter's career. Through Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic he was able to play with the major jazz artists of the time: some of his musical associates have included Ray Brown, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Ed Thigpen, Niels-Henning Osted Pedersen, Louis Armstrong, Stephane Grappeiii, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, Anita O'Day, Fred Astaire, Count Basie, and Stan Getz.

In the early 1950s Peterson began performing with Ray Brown and Charlie Smith as the Oscar Peterson Trio. Shortly afterward the drummer Smith was replaced by guitarist Irving Ashby, formerly of the Nat King Cole Trio. Ashby, who was a swing guitarist, was soon replaced by Barney Kessel. Kessel tired of touring after a year, and was replaced by Herb Ellis. When Ellis left the group in 1958, Peterson and Brown believed that Ellis could not be replaced adequately, and the trio added a drummer, at first Gene Gammage for a brief time, then Ed Thigpen. In this group Peterson became the dominant soloist. Later members of the group were Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham, Ray Prise, Sam Jones, and George Mraz.

Some cognoscenti assert that Peterson's best recordings were made for the MPS label in the late sixties and early seventies. For some years subsequently he recorded for Granz's Pablo Records after the label was founded in 1973 and in more recent years for the Telarc label. Probably his best known composition is "Canadiana Suite."

In 1993, Peterson suffered a serious stroke that weakened his left side and sidelined him for two years. However he has overcome this setback and is today still working on a limited basis. In 1997 he received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award, proof that Oscar Peterson is still regarded as one of the greatest jazz musicians ever to play.

In 2003, Peterson recorded a DVD 'A Night in Vienna' for the Verve label, which clearly shows that Peterson's age limits his technical prowess. Even so, his playing has lost but little of its charm, and he still tours the US and Europe, though maximally one month a year, with a couple of days rest between concerts to recover his strength. His accompaniment consists of Ulf Wakenius (guitar), David Young (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums), all leaders of their own groups.

Recently, he had to cancel his performance at the 2007 Toronto Jazz Festival, and his attendance to a June 8th Carnegie Hall all-star performance in his honour, due to illness.

Awards and recognitions

His work has earned him seven Grammy awards over the years and he was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He also belongs to the Juno Awards Hall of Fame and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1972, and promoted to Companion, its highest rank, in 1984. He is also a member of the Order of Ontario, a Chevalier of the National Order of Quebec, and an officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

He has received the Roy Thomson Award (1987), a Toronto Arts Award for lifetime achievement (1991), the Governor General's Performing Arts Award (1992), the Glenn Gould Prize (1993), the award of the International Society for Performing Artists (1995), the Loyola Medal of Concordia University (1997), the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), the Praemium Imperiale World Art Award (1999), the UNESCO Music Prize (2000), and the Toronto Musicians' Association Musician of the Year award (2001).

In 1999, Concordia University in Montreal renamed their Loyola-campus concert hall Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in his honour.

From 1991 to 1994 he was chancellor of York University in Toronto.

In 2004 the City of Toronto named the courtyard of the Toronto-Dominion Centre Oscar Peterson Square.

The Peel District School Board named a school after Oscar Peterson.

On August 15, 2005 Peterson celebrated his 80th birthday at the HMV flagship store in Toronto. A crowd of about 200 gathered to celebrate with him there. Diana Krall sang happy birthday to him and also performed a vocal version of one of Peterson's songs "When Summer Comes". The lyrics for this version were written by Elvis Costello, Krall's husband. Canada Post unveiled a commemorative postage stamp in his honour. This marked the first time that a Canadian postage stamp was created celebrating an individual who was still alive other than members of the British Royal Family. The event was covered by a live radio broadcast by Toronto jazz station, JAZZ.FM.

Peterson received the BBC-Radio Lifetime Achievement Award, London, England.

Albums

* 1945 I Got Rhythm
* 1947 Rockin' in Rhythm
* 1950 Oscar Peterson At Carnegie Hall
* 1951 Oscar Peterson Plays Cole Porter
* 1952 Lester Young - The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio
* 1952 Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington
* 1956 At the Stratford Shakespearean Festival
* 1957 Anita O'Day - Anita Sings the Most
* 1957 Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio
* 1957 Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
* 1958 On the Town with the Oscar Peterson Trio
* 1959 A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra
* 1959 The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson
* 1959 Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Song Book
* 1959 Oscar Peterson Plays the George Gershwin Song Book
* 1959 Oscar Peterson Plays the Cole Porter Song Book
* 1959 Oscar Peterson Plays Porgy and Bess
* 1959 Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson
* 1961 The Sound of the Trio
* 1961 The Trio
* 1962 Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson - Very Tall
* 1962 West Side Story: Oscar Peterson Trio
* 1962 Night Train
* 1963 The Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle
* 1964 Canadiana Suite
* 1964 Oscar Peterson Trio + One
* 1964 Hymn to Freedom
* 1964 We Get Requests
* 1965 Eloquence
* 1966 Blues Etude
* 1965 With Respect to Nat
* 1966 Soul Espanol
* 1967 Jazz at the Philharmonic - The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World
* 1968 My Favorite Instrument
* 1969 Motions and Emotions
* 1969 Hello Herbie
* 1970 Oscar Peterson in Paris
* 1970 Tristeza on Piano
* 1970 Another Day
* 1970 Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson - Reunion Blues
* 1970 In Tune (with the The Singers Unlimited)
* 1972 The Oscar Peterson Trio in Tokyo
* 1972 Solo
* 1973 The Trio (Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen)
* 1974 Satch and Josh - Count Basie) Encounters Oscar Peterson
* 1975 Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry
* 1975 Ella and Oscar (with Ella Fitzgerald)
* 1976 Porgy and Bess (with Joe Pass)
* 1977 Oscar Peterson and the Bassists - Montreux '77
* 1978 The Paris Concert
* 1980 Skol (Stephane Grappelli, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker)
* 1981 Nigerian Marketplace
* 1981 Ain't But a Few of Us Left (Milt Jackson, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Grady Tate)
* 1982 Freedom Song The Oscar Peterson Big 4 in Japan '82 (Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Martin Drew)
* 1983 A Tribute to My Friends
* 1983 If You Could See Me Now
* 1986 Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson
* 1984 Easter Suite
* 1990 The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Encore at the Blue Note
* 1990 The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Blue Note
* 1990 The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Saturday Night at the Blue Note
* 1990 The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Last Call at the Blue Note
* 1992 Exclusively for My Friends
* 1994 Side by Side (Oscar Peterson, Itzhak Perlman)
* 1994 Some of My Best Friends Are... ...The Piano Players (Ray Brown)
* 1995 The More I See You (Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Ray Brown)
* 1995 An Oscar Peterson Christmas
* 1996 Oscar in Paris
* 1996 Live at the Town Hall
* 1999 Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Song Book (1999) -- combined reissue of the 1953 and 1959 Ellington recordings
* 1999 A Summer Night in Munich
* 1999 My Personal Choice
* 2000 Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite A Jazz suite with strings conducted by Michel Legrand
* 2001 Oscar's Ballads

* 2004 A Night in Vienna

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