Oscar Peterson

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Oscar Peterson (1977)

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson , CC , CQ , O.Ont (born August 15, 1925 in Montréal , † December 23, 2007 in Mississauga ) was a Canadian jazz pianist and composer . Duke Ellington called him the " Maharaja of Keys". He has released over 200 recordings, won seven Grammys and numerous other awards throughout his career. He is considered one of the most successful jazz pianists of all time, having played thousands of concerts over his 65-year career.


Oscar Peterson 1977 in Munich

Peterson's parents, who immigrated from the Caribbean , and his siblings played in a family band that initially trained him on the trumpet at the age of five . Because of a tuberculosis disease, he switched to the piano at the age of six, which his sister Daisy taught him.

Winning an amateur competition made him so popular at the age of 14 that he got his own local radio show. In 1944 he became a member of the Johnny Holmes Orchestra , where he learned to compose and arrange. Three years later he formed his first trio with Bert Brown (bass) and Frank Gariepy (drums), whose performances in the Alberta Lounge in Montreal were regularly broadcast by a local radio station. It was there that Norman Granz discovered him in 1949 , who presented him as a surprise guest at New York's Carnegie Hall as part of his Jazz-at-the-Philharmonic tour . They toured the American concert halls together for two years.

In 1952, Peterson formed a new trio with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Barney Kessel , who were replaced a year later by Herb Ellis . With the drummer JC Heard expanded to a quartet, he accompanied Lester Young ( Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio ). After Ellis left in 1958, Peterson took on Ed Thigpen , a drummer, in his band, which remained in this formation until 1965, as can be heard particularly impressively in the albums Night Train from 1962 and We Get Requests from 1965. These two trios are still among the most successful in jazz history .

From the mid-1950s onwards, numerous recordings and concerts began with all known jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald , Billie Holiday , Carmen McRae , Louis Armstrong , Lester Young, Count Basie , Charlie Parker , Quincy Jones , Stan Getz , Coleman Hawkins , Dizzy Gillespie , Roy Eldridge , Clark Terry , Freddie Hubbard and the Modern Jazz Quartet . At the same time, he developed a solo career from the late 1960s, the recordings of which are among his greatest successes.

The Oscar Peterson Trio with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass) and Louis Hayes (drums) in 1971 during a concert in Aachen

Ray Brown left the trio in the mid-1970s and was replaced by the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (but also Dave Young ). Occasionally guitarist Joe Pass also made a few recordings. In 1978 he was inducted into the newly formed Canadian Music Hall of Fame as one of two artists . Due to its popularity, Peterson got his own television show in the 1980s, where he gave numerous jam sessions with well-known jazz musicians.

In 1984 Peterson composed a setting of the Passion of Jesus for the BBC , the Easter Suite in nine movements. It is considered a little known masterpiece by Peterson as it was initially only performed once - on BBC television - with Peterson at the piano. More recently, the Easter Suite has been rediscovered by the jazz trio Kordes, Tetzlaff & Godejohann and successfully performed in over a hundred concerts, which resulted in a new CD recording in 2006.

Overall, his fame is reflected in the seven Grammys he received between 1975 and 1991. In 1993 he was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize and in 1999 the Praemium Imperiale of the Japan Art Association for his life's work. During his career he became familiar with all styles of mainstream jazz . Nevertheless, he developed a very unique, typical piano style that is easy to recognize on most of the recordings. Oscar Peterson produced well over 100 music albums.

He suffered a stroke in 1993 while performing at New York's Blue Note Club , from which he recovered enough over the next few years to give concerts with one hand. In 1995 he made recordings with his colleagues Benny Carter and Clark Terry ( The More I See You ), the following year with musicians of the next generation such as Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore . In 1998 he made another guest appearance in Munich with Ulf Wakenius and in New York's Blue Note with Milt Jackson ( The Very Tall Band ). Peterson gave his last concert in Germany together with Ulf Wakenius (guitar), Dave Young (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums) on August 28, 2005 at the Dresden Semperoper .

Oscar Peterson was married four times. He died of kidney failure at his home in Mississauga at age 82 . He was buried in Saint Peter's Anglican Church Cemetery in the Erindale neighborhood of his home. He left behind his wife Kelly, a daughter (* 1991) and seven other children.

Selected discography

A selection of important albums by Oscar Peterson took place in view of the large scope of his work on the basis of the evaluations of the Penguin Guide to Jazz by Richard Cook and Brian Morton . Only albums were recorded that received the highest (****) or second highest (*** (*)) rating. The authors consider the album Night Train , recorded in December 1962, to be Peterson's best work . Rolling Stone magazine also selected Night Train 2013 in its list of The 100 Best Jazz Albums at number 53. The following are some notable albums:

  • 1955: At Zardi’s ( Pablo )
  • 1956: The Oscar Peterson Trio at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival ( Verve )
  • 1957: Oscar Peterson Trio At The Concertgebouw (Verve)
  • 1958: Tenderly (Just A Memory)
  • 1959: Ben Webster meets Oscar Peterson (Verve)
  • 1961: The Trio (Verve)
  • 1962: Very Tall (Verve)
  • 1962: West Side Story (Verve)
  • 1962: Night Train (Verve)
  • 1964: Canadiana Suite (Limelight Records)
  • 1964: Exclusively For My Friends ( MPS , 1964–1968),
  • 1965: We Get Requests (Verve)
  • 1968: Mellow Mood (MPS)
  • 1969: Hello Herbie (MPS)
  • 1971: Great Connection (MPS)
  • 1971: Tracks (MPS)
  • 1973: The Trio (Pablo)
  • 1973: The Good Life (Pablo)
  • 1974: The Giants (Pablo)
  • 1974: Count Basie Encounters Oscar Peterson - Satch And Josh (Pablo)
  • 1975: The Oscar Peterson Big 6 At Montreux (Pablo)
  • 1975: Oscar Peterson And Roy Eldridge (Pablo)
  • 1975: Oscar Peterson & Harry Edison (Pablo)
  • 1976: Porgy and Bess (Pablo)
  • 1978: Count Basie & Oscar Peterson (Pablo)
  • 1978: The Timekeepers - Count Basie Meets Oscar Peterson (Pablo)
  • 1980: Skol (Pablo)
  • 1980: Live at the Northsea Jazz Festival the Hague, Holland 1980 (Pablo)
  • 1981: Nigerian Marketplace (Pablo)
  • 1982: Freedom Song - The Oscar Peterson Big 4 In Japan '82 (Pablo)
  • 1983: If You Could See Me Now (Pablo)
  • 1983: A Tribute To My Friends (Pablo)
  • 1986: Time After Time (Pablo)
  • 1991: The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio: Saturday Night At the Blue Note (Telarc)
  • 1996: Oscar Peterson Meets Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore (Telarc)
  • 1999: A Summer Night In Munich (Telarc)
  • 1999: The Very Tall Band Live at the Blue Note (Telarc)

Grammy Awards

  • 1974 Best Jazz Performance by a group The Trio - Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
  • 1977 Best Jazz Performance by a soloist The Giants - Oscar Peterson
  • 1978 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson Jam - Montreux '77
  • 1979 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson and The Trumpet Kings - Jousts - Oscar Peterson
  • 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Band The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Blue Note
  • 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, soloist The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Blue Note
  • 1991 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Band Saturday Night at the Blue Note
  • 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award as an instrumental soloist



Web links

Commons : Oscar Peterson  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Canadian Music Hall of Fame - Inductees. Canadian Music Hall of Fame , accessed August 6, 2017 .
  2. - ( Memento of the original from October 25, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.wdr3.de
  3. Natural talent with an iron will  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , dpa / Kölnische Rundschau , December 26, 2007@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.rundschau-online.de  
  4. knerger.de: The grave of Oscar Peterson
  5. Rolling Stone: The 100 Best Jazz Albums . Retrieved November 16, 2016.