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Oscar Peterson

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Oscar Peterson

Background information
Associated actsLouis Armstrong , Count Basie , Ray Brown , Clark Terry , Roy Eldridge , Herb Ellis , Ella Fitzgerald , Dizzy Gillespie , Norman Granz , Benny Green , Coleman Hawkins , Barney Kessel , Milt Jackson , Niels-Henning rsted Pedersen , Joe Pass , Ben Webster , Ulf Wakenius Martin Drew
Birth nameOscar Emmanuel Peterson
Born( 1925-08-15 ) August 15, 1925 Montreal , Quebec , Canada
DiedDecember 23, 2007 (2007-12-23) (aged 82) Mississauga , Ontario , Canada
GenresJazz , classical
InstrumentsPiano
LabelsRCA Victor , Mercury , MPS , Pablo , Telarc , Verve
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Websiteoscarpeterson .com
Years active1945-2007
Facebookoscarpetersonlegacy

Oscar Peterson, in full Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, Canadian Jazz pianist best known for his dazzling solo technique. In 1949, Peterson went to the United States, where he appeared at one of Jazz promoter Norman Granzs concerts at Carnegie Hall, New York City. He was associated with Granz for most of the rest of his career, touring the world with Granzs all-star Jazz at Philharmonic troupe and recording prolifically for Granzs record labels. Art Tatum and especially Nat King Cole were important influences on Peterson's style. Like Coles ' early Trio, Oscar Peterson Trio that first became popular, featured piano, bass, and guitar, most notably Herb Ellis. When Ellis left the group, he was replaced by drummer Ed Thigpen. Cascades of many notes characterize Peterson's playing. His earlier work, if often glib, was nevertheless invariably swinging. In the 1970s, he began playing frequent solo concerts and duets, often with bassist Niels-Henning rsted Pedersen. These prove the most rewarding medium for his talents, and he became one of the most popular Jazz pianists of his time. His 1974-75 duet albums with trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry Edison, Clark Terry, and Jon Faddis demonstrate generous warmth and sensitivity. His recordings won eight Grammy Awards. In 1999, he received the Japan Art Associations Praemium Imperiale prize for Music. Peterson continued to perform until 2006, although his public appearances became sporadic after a stroke in 1993 affected use of his left hand as well as his ability to walk. He was the author of Jazz Exercises and Pieces and Oscar Peterson's New Piano Solos. His autobiography, Jazz Odyssey: Life of Oscar Peterson, was published in 2002.

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Biography

Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol, Art Tatum, Peterson's speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo were amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, OP was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style does not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing form during mid-to late '40s and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson was criticized through years because he used so many notes, didn't evolve much since the 1950s, and recorded a remarkable number of albums. Perhaps it is because critics ran out of favorable adjectives to use early in his career; certainly it can be said that Peterson played 100 notes when other pianists might have used ten, but all 100 usually fit, and there is nothing wrong with showing off technique when it serves Music. As with Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk, to name two, Peterson spent his career growing within his style rather than making any major changes once his approach was set, certainly an acceptable way to handle one's career. Because he was Norman Granz's favorite pianist and producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and few are routine, but the great majority are quite excellent, and there are dozens of classics. Peterson started classical piano lessons when he was six and developed quickly. After winning talent show at 14, he began starring on a weekly radio show in Montreal. Peterson picked up early experience as a teenager playing with Johnny Holmes' Orchestra. From 1945-1949, he recorded 32 selections for Victor in Montreal. Those Trio performances find Peterson displaying love for Boogie-Woogie, which he would soon discard, and the swing style of Teddy Wilson and Nat King Cole. His technique was quite brilliant even at that early stage, and although he had not yet been touched by the influence of bop, he was already a very impressive player. Granz discovered Peterson in 1949 and soon presented him as a surprise guest at a Jazz At Philharmonic concert. Peterson was recorded in 1950 in a series of duets with either Ray Brown or Major Holley on bass; his version of tenderly became a hit. Peterson's talents were quite obvious, and he became a household name in 1952 when he formed Trio With guitarist Barney Kessel and Brown. Kessel tired of road and was replaced by Herb Ellis the following year. The Peterson-Ellis-Brown Trio, which often toured with JATP, was one of Jazz's great combos from 1953-1958. Their complex yet swinging arrangements were competitive-Ellis and Brown were always trying to outwit and push the pianist-and consistently exciting.

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Composer and teacher

Peterson teaches piano and improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. With associates, he started and headed the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto for five years during the 1960s, but it closed because touring called him and his associates away, and it did not have government funding. Later, he mentor York University Jazz program and was Chancellor of the University for several years in the early 1990s. He publishes Jazz piano etudes for practice. He asked his students to study music of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially Well-temper Clavier, Goldberg Variations, and Art of Fugue, considering these piano pieces essential for every serious pianist. Among his students were pianists Benny Green and Oliver Jones.


Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson was born on August 15 1925, in the Canadian City of Montreal, acquiring musical confidence he exhibits today at an early age. Born with a naturally perfect pitch, he learned to play classical piano from his older sister Daisy, who also taught piano to Montreal pianist Oliver Jones. However, Peterson credits his father with first instilling in him the importance of music. Daniel Peterson, West-Indian born Canadian Pacific Railroad porter and amateur musician himself, insists that each of his five children develop musical skills. In particular, he wanted them to be exposed to Music outside the values of family, unlike hymns that Peterson's mother, cook and housekeeper, sang at home. In 1930, at the age of five, Peterson began to play trumpet and piano, concentrating on piano alone by seven years of age after bout with tuberculosis. Although his father was a strict disciplinarian and expected perfection from his children, Peterson said that he remain his biggest supporter. He told me, 'If you're going to go out there and be a piano player, don't just be another one be the best. ' He always had belief in me, for which I'm grateful, as quoted by Maclean's contributor Nicholas Jennings. Deriving a sense of dedication from his father, Peterson thus practiced from morning until night, taking breaks only for lunch and dinner. Later, at the age of 14, Peterson studied with Paul de Marky, renowned Hungarian-born classical pianist. He discovered through de Markey, who, according to Peterson, could mimic Art Tatum exactly, interest in Jazz. Another teacher, Lou Hooper, leads Peterson to recognize the importance of classics, teaching his students to communicate in phrases such as I have always felt Chopin was looking at a lovely landscape. At the time he composed this piece because everything about it was so lush and Green-like, recall Peterson, as quoted by Gene Santoro for New York Times.

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Peterson and Tatum

He was influenced by Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole, James P. Johnson, and Art Tatum, to whom many compare Peterson in later years. After his father played record of Tatum's Tiger Rag, he was intimidated and disillusion, quitting piano for several weeks. Tatum scar me to death, he say, and was never cocky again about his ability at piano. Tatum was a model for Peterson's musicianship during the 1940s and 1950s. Tatum and Peterson became good friends, although Peterson was always shy about being compared with Tatum and rarely played the Piano in Tatum's presence. Peterson also credits his sistera, a piano teacher in Montreal who also taught several other Canadian jazz musicianswith, being an important teacher and influence on his career. Under his sister's tutelage, Peterson expanded into classical piano training and broadened his range while mastering core classical pianism from scales to preludes and fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach. Building on Tatum's pianism and aesthetics, Peterson also absorbs Tatum's musical influences, notably from Piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff's harmonizations, as well as direct quotations from his 2 Piano Concerto, are scattered throughout many recordings by Peterson, including his work with the most familiar formulation of Oscar Peterson Trio, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. During the 1960s and 1970s, Peterson made numerous Trio recordings highlighting his piano performances; they reveal more of his eclectic style, absorbing influences from various genres of jazz, popular, and classical music. According to pianist and educator Mark Eisenman, some of Peterson's best playing was as understated accompanist to singer Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter Roy Eldridge.

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Awards and honours

Oscar Peterson was the fourth of five children. He was raised in poor. Henri neighbourhood of Montreal, also know as Little Burgundy. His parents hail from. Kitts and the British Virgin Islands. His mother, Kathleen, was a domestic worker. His father, Daniel, was a boatswain in Merchant Marines who became a porter with Canadian Pacific Railway. A self-taught amateur organist and strict disciplinarian, he leads family band in concerts at churches and community halls. He insisted that all of Peterson's children learn piano and brass instrument. Each in turn taught next youngest child. Oscar began playing trumpet and piano at age five. He focused solely on Piano at age eight following a year-long battle with tuberculosis. The Oscars first instructor was his sister, Daisy. She became a respected piano teacher in the Montreal Black community. Her later pupils include jazz musicians Oliver Jones, Joe Sealy and Reg Wilson. The Peterson brother, Chuck, became a professional trumpet player. His other sister, May, taught him piano. She also works for Time as an Oscars personal assistant. Peterson studied Piano during his youth and teens with teachers of widely different backgrounds. At the age of 12, he briefly took piano lessons from Louis Hooper, classically trained Canadian veteran of the Harlem Jazz scene of the 1920s. Later, Peterson attended the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec Montreal. At 14, he studied with Paul de Marky, Hungarian concert pianist in the 19-century tradition of Franz Liszt. Peterson was also a classmate of trumpet player Maynard Ferguson. They play together in a dance band led by Maynards brother, Percy.


Early Career

At age 14, Peterson entered an amateur contest sponsored by radio personality Ken Soble. Oscar won 250 first prize. Shortly thereafter, he began his own weekly radio show, Fifteen Minutes Piano Rambling, on Montreal station CKAC. In 1941, he was featured on CBMs Rhythm Time. In 1945, he was heard nationally on CBC s Light Up and Listen and Happy Gang. Peterson's growing command of the keyboard reflects his classical background. However, influence of popular American pianists, Nat King Cole, Teddy Wilson and especially his idol, Art Tatum, steered him towards a future in Jazz. Even a chronic case of arthritis, which first became apparent in his teens, could not slow his progress. During his teen years, he received offers from Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie to move to the US and join their bands. His parents felt he was too young and wouldnt allow it. Oscar Peterson emerged as a celebrity on the Montreal music scene in the early 1940s. He dropped out of high school at age 17 to play as featured soloist in Johnny Holme's popular dance band from 1943 to 1947. Peterson's father was skeptical of letting his son leave school to pursue a career in music. He reportedly told Oscar, If youre going to go out there and be a piano player, dont just be another one.

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Signature Edition

Jazz Legend: Oscar Peterson not only treasured his own personally-select 290 Bosendorfer Imperial Concert Grand Piano, he also performed at Bosendorfer's 175 Anniversary Concert night in Vienna at the Golden Hall of Musikverein in Vienna. In 2002, he was honored with the Bosendorfer Lifetime Achievement Award. After his passing, Oscar Peterson Signature Edition Grand was created in collaboration with the Estate of Oscar Peterson. It is limited to 12 Bosendorfer Grands and is available in sizes 200 to 214VC. Each instrument will have a Collector's Edition plate bearing Petersons lion logo and signature. Include with each instrument is the book Oscar, With Love With never before released compositions, all recorded in his home studio on his treasured Bosendorfer Imperial Piano. Introduce in 2006, Bosendorfer Oscar Peterson Grand Piano is available in a variety of finishes and colors from 6'1 model to 7' model. Riverton Piano Company is Arizona's only factory-authorize Bosendorfer dealership. Come and see us today. We look forward to hosting your Bosendorfer Piano experience.

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Sit Besides Oscar Peterson

Sit beside Oscar Peterson on the piano bench and experience music the way he originally heard it. In the early 1980s, Bosendorfer Artist sat down on piano bench and pressed the record button. He then pours full power, joy and expression of his musical prowess into the performance of 13 tunes. These digital recordings, which capture extremely accurate key and pedal data of Peterson performances, have been meticulously rescued and converted to modern-day format. With just one touch of a button, instruments keys and pedals come alive, moving up and down to recreate Peterson's original performances, just as he played them 40 years ago. Oscar Peterson Signature Edition With build-in Yamaha Disklavier E3 technology is only available in the US and Canada. Previously unpublished handwritten opening bars of Petersons ' own Hallelujah Time composition are reproduced on music desk block.

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Childhood, Family and Education

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson was born on Aug. 15 1925 in Montreal, Que. He grew up next to a church in Saint-Henri-bustling district with a small but tight-knit black community. His father, Daniel Peterson, made sure the house was immersed in music. He was a self-taught musician who worked as a railway porter all his life. When Oscar Peterson was still young, his father scrapped together enough money to buy a piano, even if it meant the family didn't have enough to eat for a few days. Daniel Peterson was strict but he instilled a sense of discipline and drive in his five children. He saw music as a way out of working on rails, one of few opportunities open to black Canadians at the time. Two important teachers in Oscar Peterson's early musical training were his sister Daisy and the Hungarian-born classical pianist Paul de Marky. He later credited them for making him believe he had something to offer to the musical world.

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Early Career

For most fans, classic Oscar Peterson remains his trio organized in 1953, featuring bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. Although drummerless, Peterson's percussive style leaves little room for one anyway. The trio's recordings together include 1955's At Zardis, 1956's At Stratford Shakespearean Festival, and 1957's At Concertgebouw. His next Trio, in place in the late-1950s, included Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, who remained with Peterson until 1965. When Thigpen replaced Ellis, group shifted from one in which any instrument could provide melody and harmony to a more standard piano, bass, and drums format. From here forward, Peterson will most often record in the standard Trio setting. Some departures include Oscar Peterson Trio + 1, with flugelhornist Clark Terry, and solo outing Tracks, both recorded in 1971. Beginning in the early 1970s, Peterson embarked on a prolific touring and recording career, mostly for Pablo Records label. Returning briefly to drummerless Trio, he recorded in 1973, Tracks and Good Life, both featuring bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and guitarist Joe Pass. He also recorded in a number of other settings, from duets with Dizzy Gillespie and Terry to symphony Orchestra appearances. Meanwhile, Peterson was growing increasingly popular for his solo concerts, and he was recording during the 1970s and 1980s up to six albums per year.


Oscar Peterson

In 1947, Peterson formed his first trio, with bassist Ozzie Roberts and drummer Clarence Jones, and brought the group to Montreal's Alberta Lounge. It was here that Peterson first met record producer and concert promoter Norman Granz, who was to have a major impact on his career. In 1944, Granz had begun mounting all-star Jazz concerts at Philharmonic Hall in Los Angeles. These concerts as well as ensembles showcased by them become known as Jazz at Philharmonic. Eventually, Jazz at Philharmonic enterprise began to feature national touring groups, as well as recordings. While in Montreal with one of these JATP touring groups, Granz heard Peterson perform and invited him to play in a concert at Carnegie Hall. The pianist's appearance there in 1949 set the stage for an international career. During the early 1950s, Peterson toured regularly with Jazz at Philharmonic, traveling to 41 cities in North America, as well as Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Philippines. In 1953, Peterson formed what was to become his most famous trio, with Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on double bass. Group, which performed and recorded together for five years, was a perfect blending of musical personalities, with artists remarkably attune to each other and the effect of performance as a whole. Peterson's biographer, Richard Palmer, called the ensemble the finest piano-bass-guitar group ever and wrote in 1984 that the drive, sonority, and almost spooky level of communication are as phenomenal now as when the group was playing and recording. It was a group based on love; and that still comes across irresistibly on records twenty-five years on. Eventually weary of touring, Ellis left the trio in 1958; He was replaced by drummer Ed Thigpen, who remained with the ensemble until 1965. Peterson had settled in Toronto in 1958, and in 1960, along with Brown, Thigpen, trombonist Butch Watanabe, and composer Phil Nimmons, founded that City's advance School of Contemporary Music. In addition to offering classes in improvisation, Peterson and his colleagues try to instill in students a sense of tradition; Peterson explained to Doerschuk, We found that awareness among youngsters of what had preceded them in Jazz was lacking. In those days, people were saying " Who? About Miles Davis, believe it or not! So we would go through some of their recordings and say, this is what this man does This is what he means to music. But Peterson and his fellow educators ultimately find school demands too much of their time and abandon it after three years.

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Canadas First Jazz Star

One of the most admired, though sometimes controversial, pianists in Jazz, Oscar Peterson in the post-war era, claims the same sort of status as earlier greats such as James P. Anderson, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Fats Waller, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans. Possibly the most successful artist produced in Canada, he has appeared on well over 200 albums spanning six decades and has won numerous Awards, including eight Grammys. During his career, he has performed and recorded with, among others, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. Peterson came of age during the bebop and swing years of the 1940s. Brute force on piano, Peterson, similar to his idol Art Tatum, seemed to play without strain and with great command of his instrument. Oscar told me, say younger pianist Billy Green to Don Heckman of Los Angeles Times, that the first thing he does when he sits down at the piano is to gauge Key drophow far keys on individual instrument need to be depressed before the hammer hits strings. He says and he makes it sound so simplethat once he scopes that out, then he's in complete control of the piano. For the rest of the US, of course, there are a lot more steps involve. However, Peterson's abilities prove both blessing and curse. His tendency to play at high speeds and overuse of harmonic complexities have led critics to call his technique too overwhelming at Times. Furthermore, according to music historians, Peterson's playing sometimes drown out expression, leaving intended musical statement uncommunicated. But perhaps, as many loyalists claim, Peterson just may be too good. And his durability and accomplishments have certainly validated his importance in the history of Jazz.

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American Introduction

Peterson made his first recordings for RCA Victor in March 1945. These early releases, notably I get Rhythm and Sheik of Araby, reveal talent for boogie-woogie that earned him the nickname Brown bomber of boogie-woogie. They also reveal extraordinary technique that would characterize his playing throughout his career. Peterson made sixteen 78s for RCA Victor between 1945 and 1949, last of these suggest the influence of bebop. These songs were compiled on CD by BMG France in 1994; they were repackaged by BMG Canada in 1996 as Complete Young Oscar Peterson. The popularity of these records established Peterson as the first Jazz Star that Canada could truly call its own. His exposure on CBC Radio and his two tours of Western Canada in 1946 also contributed to his growing fame. In 1947, he headlined Montreals Alberta Lounge with his own trio. It consists of Austin Ozzie Roberts on bass and Clarence Jones on drums. The trio was heard on Montreal Radio station CFCF in broadcasts from Lounge. The other record document of Petersons Montreal years is the soundtrack For Norman McLaren S innovative and Award-winning National Film Board short, Begone Dull Care. By the end of the 1940s, Peterson had all but exhausted the limited Jazz market in Canada. Word of his talent had spread to the US. Following tour to Montreal, Dizzy Gillespie told composer and record producer Leonard Feather, Theres Pianist up here whos just too much. Youve never heard anything like it! We gotta put him in concert. However, Feather took no action. Similarly, American Jazz impresario and record producer Norman Granz heard about Peterson through Coleman Hawkins and Billy Strayhorn. But Granz also failed to reach out to Canadian Pianist until 1949 visit to Montreal. Granz was on his way to the airport to leave the City when he heard Peterson playing on the Radio from Alberta Lounge. He told the cab driver to take him there immediately.


Oscar Peterson

Peterson, Oscar pianist, singer, one of the most popular of all Jazz musicians; b. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 15 1925. He was part of a very musical black community. His older sister Daisy was a legendary piano teacher. His father started him on classical piano at age six, culminating with studies with Hungarian classical pianist Paul deMarky. He quit school at 16 to pursue his career; by his teens, he was playing on a weekly radio show. In 1944, he was playing with Johnny Holmes Orch. In style reminiscent of Teddy Wilson, Erroll Garner, and Art Tatum. He had trouble reading music but overcame this by having members of his group immediately memorize arrangements for trios. From 1945, he recorded in Canada for RCA, and in 1949 he went to Carnegie Hall with Norman Granzs Jazz Philharmonic. He has been associated with Granz on Verve and Pablo labels ever since, except for a period on European MPS in mid-1970s when Granz was retire. In 1950, Down Beat name him pianist of year, award he won 12 times. On at least one occasion in Cleveland, he get to jam with Tatum after hours. He led a Nat Cole-style trio with Ray Brown on bass and Irving Ashby, succeeded by Barney Kessel, then Herb Ellis, on guitar. In 1958, guitar was replaced by drummer Ed Thigpen, in turn replaced by Louis Hayes. In 1965; Sam Jones took over from Brown on bass. Peterson occasionally sing, notably on With Respect To Nat, very much in Coles style. After 1970, he concentrated on solo piano performances and has worked with symphony orchestras since the mid 1970s. He was made an Officer of Order of Canada. In 1991, he was named chancellor of York Univ. In Toronto, where he continues to do some teaching. He tours 40 weeks a year, but always maintains a home in the Toronto area. The pace of his schedule takes its toll on his personal life: his first three marriages, which produced six children, ended in divorce. He also has 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. In 1993, he suffered a stroke while playing at a club in NY. He require three months of intensive therapy at home to recover from stroke physical effects. Peterson said that he also needed push from his physiotherapist to recover emotionally. It took him 14 months, until July 1994, before he felt comfortable playing publicly and touring again. Stroke partially paralyzed the left side of his body, limiting his use of his left hand, but fortunately not enough to prevent him from playing well. His playing has often been criticized for glib excess of notes, specifically that it lack drama, but his music has an undeniably powerful drive and swing and the light emotional tone of his work is in keeping with much of his generation.

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Sources

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