The great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died today. You can read his obituary at the New York Times (free registration required) or the Los Angeles Times.
I only heard him live once, at El Matador on Broadway in San Francisco. Fortunately, we still have his music to remember him.
One Reply to “Oscar Peterson 1925-2007”
Tim, Kenny Newell and I first heard Oscar with Duke Ellingotn and Ella Fitzgerald when Jazz at the Philharmonic played the Oakland Coliseum Arena. It was an amazing night. (Parenthetically, this was the night Coleman Hawkins collapsed on stage while accompanied by Oscar. Hawkins passed away the next day.) Anyway, Peterson played chorus after chorus of hard-driving jazz piano. Didn’t know where all the ideas were coming from. We were in high school then, and just trying to figure out jazz improvisation, so it was a real lesson. In addition to the speed and technique, Oscar played great ballads, too. And his arrangements from “West Side Story” are also worth listening to. I think he was one of the first to bring back solo jazz piano in the 70s, along with Earl Hines, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, and that’s what we might have heard at El Matador. You could not order a drink requiring use of the blender while he played.