Oscar Peterson

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For the U.S. Navy sailor and Medal of Honor recipient, see Oscar V. Peterson. Oscar Peterson_sentence_0

For the American carver of fish decoys, see Oscar W. Peterson. Oscar Peterson_sentence_1

Oscar Peterson_table_infobox_0

Oscar PetersonCC CQ OOntOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_2_0 Oscar Emmanuel PetersonOscar Peterson_cell_0_2_1
BornOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_3_0 (1925-08-15)August 15, 1925

Montreal, Quebec, CanadaOscar Peterson_cell_0_3_1

DiedOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_4_0 December 23, 2007(2007-12-23) (aged 82)

Mississauga, Ontario, CanadaOscar Peterson_cell_0_4_1

GenresOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_5_0 Jazz, classicalOscar Peterson_cell_0_5_1
Occupation(s)Oscar Peterson_header_cell_0_6_0 Musician, composerOscar Peterson_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_7_0 PianoOscar Peterson_cell_0_7_1
Years activeOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_8_0 1945–2007Oscar Peterson_cell_0_8_1
LabelsOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_9_0 RCA Victor, Mercury, MPS, Pablo, Telarc, VerveOscar Peterson_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_10_0 Louis 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 Ørsted Pedersen, Joe Pass, Ben Webster, Ulf Wakenius Martin DrewOscar Peterson_cell_0_10_1
WebsiteOscar Peterson_header_cell_0_11_0 Oscar Peterson_cell_0_11_1

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC CQ OOnt (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) was a Canadian jazz pianist, virtuoso and composer. Oscar Peterson_sentence_2

He was called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, simply "O.P." Oscar Peterson_sentence_3

by his friends, and informally in the jazz community as "the King of inside swing". Oscar Peterson_sentence_4

He released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. Oscar Peterson_sentence_5

He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists, and played thousands of concerts worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years. Oscar Peterson_sentence_6

Biography Oscar Peterson_section_0

Early years Oscar Peterson_section_1

Peterson was born in Montreal, Quebec, to immigrants from the West Indies; his father worked as a porter for Canadian Pacific Railway. Oscar Peterson_sentence_7

Peterson grew up in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montreal. Oscar Peterson_sentence_8

It was in this predominantly black neighborhood that he encountered the jazz culture. Oscar Peterson_sentence_9

At the age of five, Peterson began honing his skills on trumpet and piano, but a bout of tuberculosis when he was seven prevented him from playing the trumpet again, so he directed all his attention to the piano. Oscar Peterson_sentence_10

His father, Daniel Peterson, an amateur trumpeter and pianist, was one of his first music teachers, and his sister Daisy taught him classical piano. Oscar Peterson_sentence_11

Peterson was persistent at practising scales and classical études. Oscar Peterson_sentence_12

As a child, Peterson studied with Hungarian-born pianist Paul de Marky, a student of István Thomán, who was himself a pupil of Franz Liszt, so his early training was predominantly based on classical piano. Oscar Peterson_sentence_13

But he was captivated by traditional jazz and boogie-woogie and learned several ragtime pieces. Oscar Peterson_sentence_14

He was called "the Brown Bomber of the Boogie-Woogie". Oscar Peterson_sentence_15

At the age of nine Peterson played piano with a degree of control that impressed professional musicians. Oscar Peterson_sentence_16

For many years his piano studies included four to six hours of daily practice. Oscar Peterson_sentence_17

Only in his later years did he decrease his practice to one or two hours daily. Oscar Peterson_sentence_18

In 1940, at fourteen years of age, he won the national music competition organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Oscar Peterson_sentence_19

After that victory, he dropped out of the High School of Montreal, where he played in a band with Maynard Ferguson. Oscar Peterson_sentence_20

He became a professional pianist, starring in a weekly radio show and playing at hotels and music halls. Oscar Peterson_sentence_21

In his teens he was a member of the Johnny Holmes Orchestra. Oscar Peterson_sentence_22

From 1945 to 1949 he worked in a trio and recorded for Victor Records. Oscar Peterson_sentence_23

He gravitated toward boogie-woogie and swing with a particular fondness for Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson. Oscar Peterson_sentence_24

By the time he was in his 20s, he had developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive pianist. Oscar Peterson_sentence_25

Duos, trios, and quartets Oscar Peterson_section_2

In a cab on the way to the Montreal airport, Norman Granz heard a radio program broadcasting from a local club. Oscar Peterson_sentence_26

He was so impressed that he told the driver to take him to the club so he could meet the pianist. Oscar Peterson_sentence_27

In 1949 he introduced Peterson in New York City at a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall. Oscar Peterson_sentence_28

He remained Peterson's manager for most of his career. Oscar Peterson_sentence_29

This was more than a managerial relationship; Peterson praised Granz for standing up for him and other black jazz musicians in the segregationist south of the 1950s and 1960s. Oscar Peterson_sentence_30

In the documentary video Music in the Key of Oscar, Peterson tells how Granz stood up to a gun-toting southern policeman who wanted to stop the trio from using "whites-only" taxis. Oscar Peterson_sentence_31

In 1950 Peterson worked in a duo with double bassist Ray Brown. Oscar Peterson_sentence_32

Two years later they added guitarist Barney Kessel. Oscar Peterson_sentence_33

Then Herb Ellis stepped in after Kessel grew weary of touring. Oscar Peterson_sentence_34

The trio remained together from 1953 to 1958, often touring with Jazz at the Philharmonic. Oscar Peterson_sentence_35

Peterson also worked in a duo with Sam Jones, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Joe Pass, Irving Ashby, Count Basie, and Herbie Hancock. Oscar Peterson_sentence_36

He considered the trio with Brown and Ellis "the most stimulating" and productive setting for public performances and studio recordings. Oscar Peterson_sentence_37

In the early 1950s, he began performing with Brown and drummer Charlie Smith as the Oscar Peterson Trio. Oscar Peterson_sentence_38

Shortly afterward Smith was replaced by guitarist Irving Ashby, who had been a member of the Nat King Cole Trio. Oscar Peterson_sentence_39

Ashby, who was a swing guitarist, was soon replaced by Kessel. Oscar Peterson_sentence_40

Their last recording, On the Town with the Oscar Peterson Trio, recorded live at the Town Tavern in Toronto, captured a remarkable degree of emotional as well as musical understanding between three players. Oscar Peterson_sentence_41

When Ellis departed in 1958, they hired drummer Ed Thigpen because they felt no guitarist could compare to Ellis. Oscar Peterson_sentence_42

Brown and Thigpen worked with Peterson on his albums Night Train and Canadiana Suite. Oscar Peterson_sentence_43

Both left in 1965 and were replaced by bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes (and later, drummer Bobby Durham). Oscar Peterson_sentence_44

The trio performed together until 1970. Oscar Peterson_sentence_45

In 1969 Peterson recorded Motions and Emotions with orchestral arrangements of "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles. Oscar Peterson_sentence_46

In the fall of 1970, Peterson's trio released the album Tristeza on Piano. Oscar Peterson_sentence_47

Jones and Durham left in 1970. Oscar Peterson_sentence_48

In the 1970s Peterson formed a trio with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. Oscar Peterson_sentence_49

This trio emulated the success of the 1950s trio with Brown and Ellis and gave acclaimed performances at festivals. Oscar Peterson_sentence_50

Their album The Trio won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group. Oscar Peterson_sentence_51

On April 22, 1978, Peterson performed in the interval act for the Eurovision Song Contest 1978 that was broadcast live from the Palais des congrès de Paris. Oscar Peterson_sentence_52

In 1974 he added British drummer Martin Drew. Oscar Peterson_sentence_53

This quartet toured and recorded extensively worldwide. Oscar Peterson_sentence_54

Pass said in a 1976 interview, "The only guys I've heard who come close to total mastery of their instruments are Art Tatum and Peterson". Oscar Peterson_sentence_55

Peterson was open to experimental collaborations with jazz musicians such as saxophonist Ben Webster, trumpeter Clark Terry, and vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Oscar Peterson_sentence_56

In 1961, the Peterson trio with Jackson recorded the album Very Tall. Oscar Peterson_sentence_57

His solo recordings were rare until Exclusively for My Friends (MPS), a series of albums that were his response to pianists such as Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner. Oscar Peterson_sentence_58

He recorded for Pablo, led by Norman Granz, after the label was founded in 1973, including the soundtrack for the 1978 thriller The Silent Partner. Oscar Peterson_sentence_59

In the 1980s he played in a duo with pianist Herbie Hancock. Oscar Peterson_sentence_60

In the late 1980s and 1990s, after a stroke, he made performances and recordings with his protégé Benny Green. Oscar Peterson_sentence_61

In the 1990s and 2000s he recorded several albums accompanied by a combo for Telarc. Oscar Peterson_sentence_62

Ill health and later years Oscar Peterson_section_3

Peterson had arthritis since his youth, and in later years he had trouble buttoning his shirt. Oscar Peterson_sentence_63

Never slender, his weight increased to 125 kg (276 lb), hindering his mobility. Oscar Peterson_sentence_64

He had hip replacement surgery in the early 1990s. Oscar Peterson_sentence_65

Although the surgery was successful, his mobility was still inhibited. Oscar Peterson_sentence_66

In 1993 a stroke weakened his left side and removed him from work for two years. Oscar Peterson_sentence_67

During the same year incoming prime minister Jean Chrétien, his friend and fan, offered him the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Oscar Peterson_sentence_68

According to Chrétien, Peterson declined the job due to ill health related to the stroke. Oscar Peterson_sentence_69

Although he recovered some dexterity in his left hand, his piano playing was diminished, and his style had relied principally on his right hand. Oscar Peterson_sentence_70

In 1995 he returned to occasional public performances and recorded for Telarc. Oscar Peterson_sentence_71

In 1997 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award. Oscar Peterson_sentence_72

His friend, Canadian politician and amateur pianist Bob Rae, said, "a one-handed Oscar was better than just about anyone with two hands." Oscar Peterson_sentence_73

In 2003, Peterson recorded the DVD A Night in Vienna for Verve with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Ulf Wakenius, and Martin Drew. Oscar Peterson_sentence_74

He continued to tour the U.S. and Europe, though at most one month a year, with rest between concerts. Oscar Peterson_sentence_75

In 2007 his health declined. Oscar Peterson_sentence_76

He canceled his plans to perform at the Toronto Jazz Festival and a Carnegie Hall all-star concert that was to be given in his honour. Oscar Peterson_sentence_77

Peterson died on December 23, 2007 of kidney failure at his home in Mississauga, Ontario. Oscar Peterson_sentence_78

Personal life Oscar Peterson_section_4

Peterson was married four times. Oscar Peterson_sentence_79

He smoked cigarettes and a pipe and often tried to break the habit, but every time he stopped he gained weight. Oscar Peterson_sentence_80

He loved to cook and remained large throughout his life. Oscar Peterson_sentence_81

Composer and teacher Oscar Peterson_section_5

Peterson taught piano and improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. Oscar Peterson_sentence_82

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. Oscar Peterson_sentence_83

Later, he mentored the York University jazz program and was the Chancellor of the university for several years in the early 1990s. Oscar Peterson_sentence_84

He published jazz piano etudes for practice. Oscar Peterson_sentence_85

He asked his students to study the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, and The Art of Fugue, considering these piano pieces essential for every serious pianist. Oscar Peterson_sentence_86

Among his students were pianists Benny Green and Oliver Jones. Oscar Peterson_sentence_87

Peterson and Tatum Oscar Peterson_section_6

He was influenced by Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole, James P. Johnson, and Art Tatum, to whom many compared Peterson in later years. Oscar Peterson_sentence_88

After his father played a record of Tatum's "Tiger Rag", he was intimidated and disillusioned, quitting the piano for several weeks. Oscar Peterson_sentence_89

"Tatum scared me to death," he said, and was "never cocky again" about his ability at the piano. Oscar Peterson_sentence_90

Tatum was a model for Peterson's musicianship during the 1940s and 1950s. Oscar Peterson_sentence_91

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. Oscar Peterson_sentence_92

Peterson also credited his sister—a piano teacher in Montreal who also taught several other Canadian jazz musicians—with being an important teacher and influence on his career. Oscar Peterson_sentence_93

Under his sister's tutelage, Peterson expanded into classical piano training and broadened his range while mastering the core classical pianism from scales to preludes and fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach. Oscar Peterson_sentence_94

Building on Tatum's pianism and aesthetics, Peterson also absorbed Tatum's musical influences, notably from piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Oscar Peterson_sentence_95

Rachmaninoff's harmonizations, as well as direct quotations from his 2nd Piano Concerto, are scattered throughout many recordings by Peterson, including his work with the most familiar formulation of the Oscar Peterson Trio, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. Oscar Peterson_sentence_96

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. Oscar Peterson_sentence_97

According to pianist and educator Mark Eisenman, some of Peterson's best playing was as an understated accompanist to singer Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter Roy Eldridge. Oscar Peterson_sentence_98

Awards and honours Oscar Peterson_section_7

Grammy Awards Oscar Peterson_section_8

Oscar Peterson_unordered_list_0

  • 1975 Best Jazz Performance by a Group The TrioOscar Peterson_item_0_0
  • 1977 Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist The GiantsOscar Peterson_item_0_1
  • 1978 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson Jam – Montreux '77Oscar Peterson_item_0_2
  • 1979 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Oscar Peterson and The Trumpet Kings – JoustsOscar Peterson_item_0_3
  • 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group Live at the Blue NoteOscar Peterson_item_0_4
  • 1990 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist The Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Blue NoteOscar Peterson_item_0_5
  • 1991 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group Saturday Night at the Blue NoteOscar Peterson_item_0_6
  • 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award Instrumental Soloist Lifetime AchievementOscar Peterson_item_0_7

Other awards Oscar Peterson_section_9

Oscar Peterson_unordered_list_1

Instruments Oscar Peterson_section_10

Oscar Peterson_unordered_list_2

  • Bösendorfer pianos - 1990s and 2000s, some performances from the 70s onward.Oscar Peterson_item_2_36
  • Yamaha - Acoustic and Disklavier- 1998-2006 in Canada (Touring and Recording)Oscar Peterson_item_2_37
  • Steinway & Sons Model A (which currently resides at Village Studios in Los Angeles) - most performances from the 1940s through the 1980s, some recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_38
  • Baldwin pianos - some performances in the US, some recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_39
  • C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik pianos - some performances and recordings in Europe.Oscar Peterson_item_2_40
  • Petrof pianos - some performances in Europe.Oscar Peterson_item_2_41
  • Clavichord - on album Porgy and Bess with Joe PassOscar Peterson_item_2_42
  • Fender Rhodes electric piano - several recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_43
  • Synthesizer - several recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_44
  • Hammond organ - some live performances and several recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_45
  • Vocals - some live performances and several recordings.Oscar Peterson_item_2_46

Discography Oscar Peterson_section_11

Further information: Oscar Peterson discography Oscar Peterson_sentence_99

See also Oscar Peterson_section_12

Oscar Peterson_unordered_list_3


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar Peterson.