Sunday, January 06, 2008

December 30, 2007 Good-bye Oscar the Great
On December 22nd, Oscar Peterson died at his home in Ontario, Canada, just outside of Toronto. He was 82 years old. He remained musically active late in his life, despite a stroke he suffered in 1993, which effected his playing abilities. In the eyes of many, he was one of the greatest jazz piano players ever; he was certainly loved by many. He was a successful and prolific performer and recorder. For several years he produced four to five albums a year. He toured throughout Canada, the USA, Europe and Japan. He performed with other jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge, Nat King Cole, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. He played for fourteen years with one of the finest jazz bass players, Ray Brown, joined by Herb Ellis on guitar. Oscar toured during the 4os and 50s with Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series.

Duke Ellington called Oscar Peterson the 'maharajah of the keyboard' and Basie said, "Oscar Peterson plays the best ivory box I've ever heard." He was known for his incredible sense of swing and technical proficiency and was honored with eight Grammy awards. He built on the legacy of Art Tatum, Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson. There are some wonderful videos of Oscar performing posted on YouTube.

Oscar Peterson was born in St. Antoine district of Montreal. His parents were of West Indian and Caribbean descent. Although his family was poor, he was encouraged to study music and began on the trumpet and then switched to piano, when his lungs were weakened by tuberculosis.

Oscar Peterson is best described as a summational artist - a genius at pulling on and synthesizing the sounds of the jazz giants before him. Others would take those sounds and build something totally new and innovative. (most of this information was taken from the NY Times 12.25.07 article by Richard Severo)

I dedicated my show to Oscar Peterson and to the artists he performed with over his prolific jazz lifetime. I was joined in the studio by Roco, who is the DJ of WCOM's popular Saturday morning show, The Music Hall. Renee also came by to enjoy the music and to help. Both are great music enthusiasts. Each Sunday night, I feature North Carolina jazz musicians on my radio show from 7:00 - 9:00 EST. The station can be heard in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area at 103.5 fm on the dial and anywhere in the world by going to our webstreaming broadcast off of our website at You can call in to chat or make a request at 919 929-9601.

Nina Simone (b. Tryon, NC); Anthology CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
Oscar Peterson; Oscar Peterson & Friends CD; Tea for Two
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie (h.s. Laurenburg, NC); Diz n Bird at Carnegie Hall CD; A Night in Tunisia
Oscar Peterson; OP & Friends CD; A Wonderful Guy
Count Basie; This Time for Basie CD; One Mint Julip
Oscar Peterson & Anita O'Day; OP & Friends CD; You Turned the Tables on Me
Dizzy Gillespie; Bird Songs CD; Orni Thology with Bobby McFarron
Oscar Peterson; OP & Friends CD; Scrapple From the Apple
Stan Getz & Gilberto; Getz/Gilberto CD; The Girl from Ipanema
Oscar Peterson; OP & Friends CD; A Foggy Day
Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington CD; Mood Indigo
Oscar Peterson; OP & Friends CD; A Foggy Day
Ella Fitzgerald & Oscar Peterson; Pure Ella CD; Oh Lady, Be Good
Nat King Cole Trio; Best of the Nat King Cole Trio; It's Only a Paper Moon
Billy Taylor (b. Greenville, NC); Music Keeps Us Young CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free

I thank Roco and Rene for helping me with the show tonight. I'm always glad to have the company.

Enjoy 50 years of history in images and music in three minutes time.


At 5:10 PM, Blogger David said...

I found great version of Caravan by Duke here


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