Oscar Peterson

Sorting through our mixed feelings about Oscar Peterson

It’s easy to love the grand, effulgent splendor of Oscar Peterson’s piano style. It’s also easy to feel you don’t love it enough. That’s a position we unexpectedly share as longtime listeners, coming to the Peterson altar with a balance of deep respect and uneasy ambivalence.
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Did jazz forget about Oscar Peterson?

When the great Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson first toured Jim Crow America, he made a plan, and he stuck to it. Peterson said, “If the only way I was going to make it was to frighten the hell out of everybody pianistically—if that’s what it took to get the attention—then that’s what I would do my best to do.”
Roger Ebert

Oscar Peterson: Black + White

Even if you know nothing of jazz or Oscar Peterson, the subject of Barry Avrich’s “Oscar Peterson: Black + White,” the new documentary will at least convince you that the pianist was an all-time great; a child prodigy who transitioned to an accoladed adult career without missing a beat, a master of his craft who could outplay anyone from the time he was a young teen until when he stopped touring in 2007 not long before his death. Even a stroke in 1993 that left Peterson with severely reduced mobility in his left hand only kept him off stage for less than two years, as he retrained himself to play up to his own sky-high standards with only one functioning hand.

'Oscar Peterson: Black+ White' review: Celebrating a legendary jazz pianist

WHAT IT’S ABOUT The best word to describe the Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson is "prodigious" — and even that might be an understatement. Over a 60-year career, he played thousands of concerts, released more than 200 albums and earned eight Grammys. DownBeat magazine named him pianist of the year, 13 years in a row. His original composition "Hymn to Freedom," released in 1963, became a Civil Rights anthem and helped inaugurate Barack Obama in 2009. Peterson missed that historic moment, but by the time of his death, in 2007, he was considered by many to be the finest jazz pianist the world had ever seen.

A new film, 'Oscar Peterson: Black + White,' sheds new light on a jazz giant

With two hands, he could fly at the speed of sound — or quiet a room with the hush of his touch. Oscar Peterson was one of Canada’s brightest moments, whether sitting solo at the piano or alongside giants, including John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Ben Webster, Clark Terry and J.J. Johnson.

Oscar Peterson: A Time for Love: Live in Helsinki, 1987 (Mack Avenue)

Really, how bad can A Time for Love be? It’s a concert recording of piano great Oscar Peterson and his quartet with guitar great Joe Pass (at this point featuring Dave Young on bass and Martin Drew on drums), made during one of the heights of Peterson’s live performance career. In short, it’s as good as you no doubt assumed it was before you even started reading this review.
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Oscar Peterson – A Time For Love – Mack Avenue Music Group

Mack Avenue Music Group releases a vibrant mid career live album from Oscar Peterson. Oscar Peterson – A Time For Love – The Oscar Peterson Quartet/Live In Helsinki 1987 Two Lions Records/Mack Avenue Music Group MAC1151LP translucent blue 180-gram stereo triple vinyl, 110:26 *****:. (Oscar Peterson – piano;...

Oscar Peterson – ‘A Time For Love. Live In Helsinki 1987’

Oscar Peterson – A Time For Love – Live In Helsinki 1987. (Mack Avenue MAC1151 – CD review by Mark McKergow) This double CD set finds Canadian piano maestro Oscar Peterson with his quartet in 1987 on the last night of a long tour. The results are a feast of exuberant, classic high-quality jazz, a 35-year-old time capsule which still sounds freshly minted and bursting with Peterson panache.

Oscar Peterson - A Time For Love: The Oscar Peterson Quartet Live in Helsinki, 1987 (Two Lions/Mack Avenue)

A legendary virtuoso, pianist Oscar Peterson channeled the keyboard masters that came before him into a singular vision, influencing tons of future maestros with at least 200 records to his name – a prolificacy that makes it easy to take his body of work for granted. But it’s the Canadian ace’s concerts that still produce awed whispers amongst his followers, and A Time For Love: The Oscar Peterson Quartet Live in Helsinki, 1987 documents a great one.

Jazz Virtuoso Oscar Peterson Gives Dick Cavett a Dazzling Piano Lesson (1979)

Duke Ellington once called Oscar Peterson the “Maharaja of the Keyboard” for his virtuosity and ability to play any style with seeming ease, a skill he first began to learn as a classically trained child prodigy. Peterson was introduced to Bach and Beethoven by his musician father and older sister Daisy, then drilled in rigorous finger exercises and given six hours a day of practice by his teacher, Hungarian pianist Paul de Marky. “I only first really heard jazz somewhere between the ages of seven and 10,” said the Canadian jazz great. “My older brother Fred, who was actually a better pianist than I was, started playing various new tunes — well they were new for me, anyway…. Duke Ellington and Art Tatum, who frightened me to death with his technique.”

New Music Monday — Bill Charlap Trio, Oscar Peterson, & Jim Knapp Orchestra

Listen in on Monday, November 22, at noon, when host Arturo Gómez highlights the following recordings and more. Pianist Bill Charlap returns to Blue Note with Street of Dreams, a stunning new album featuring his revered longstanding trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. Street of Dreams is a celebration of New York City as it emerges from an unprecedentedly challenging period, as reflected in the eight impeccably curated songs on the album, a delightful mix of jazz classics and Songbook favorites. Charlap and the 2 Wahingtons-no relation- have been a working trio for over 25 years and their seamless playing reflects that bond!