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Oscar Peterson Trio

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, O.P. was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style did not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing formed during the mid- to late '40s and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson was criticized through the 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 the 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 (along with Tatum) and the producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and a 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 a 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 a 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 the Philharmonic concert. Peterson was recorded in 1950 on 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 a trio with guitarist Barney Kessel and Brown. Kessel tired of the 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. In 1958, when Ellis left the band, it was decided that no other guitarist could fill in so well, and he was replaced (after a brief stint by Gene Gammage) by drummer Ed Thigpen. In contrast to the earlier group, the Peterson-Brown-Thigpen trio (which lasted until 1965) found the pianist easily the dominant soloist. Later versions of the group featured drummers Louis Hayes (1965-1966), Bobby Durham (1967-1970), Ray Price (1970), and bassists Sam Jones (1966-1970) and George Mraz (1970).

In 1960, Peterson established the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted for three years. He made his first recorded set of unaccompanied piano solos in 1968 (strange that Granz had not thought of it) during his highly rated series of MPS recordings. With the formation of the Pablo label by Granz in 1972, Peterson was often teamed with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels Pedersen. He appeared on dozens of all-star records, made five duet albums with top trumpeters (Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry, and Jon Faddis), and teamed up with Count Basie on several two-piano dates. An underrated composer, Peterson wrote and recorded the impressive "Canadiana Suite" in 1964 and has occasionally performed originals in the years since. Although always thought of as a masterful acoustic pianist, Peterson has also recorded on electric piano (particularly some of his own works), organ on rare occasions, and even clavichord for an odd duet date with Joe Pass. One of his rare vocal sessions in 1965, With Respect to Nat, reveals that Peterson's singing voice was nearly identical to Nat King Cole's. A two-day reunion with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown in 1990 (which also included Bobby Durham) resulted in four CDs. Peterson was felled by a serious stroke in 1993 that knocked him out of action for two years. He gradually returned to the scene, however, although with a weakened left hand. Even when he wasn't 100 percent, Peterson was a classic improviser, one of the finest musicians that jazz has ever produced. The pianist appeared on an enormous number of records through the years. As a leader, he has recorded for Victor, Granz's Clef and Verve labels (1950-1964), MPS, Mercury, Limelight, Pablo, and Telarc. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Play The Songbook Hits

1. Just One Of Those Things

2. The Man I Love

3. This Can’t Be Love

4. Night And Day

5. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye

8. Lady Be Good

9. Why Can’t You Behave?

10. Summertime

11. Love For Sale

13. A Foggy Day (In London Town)

14. I’ve Got You Under My Skin

15. I Concentrate On You

16. Hey All Laughed

18. It Ain’t Necessarily So

19. Nice Work If You Can Get It

x

Track List: Affinity

1. Waltz For Debbie

2. Tangerine

3. Gravy Waltz

4. This Could Be The Start Of Something Big

5. Baubles, Bangles, And Beads

6. Six And Four

7. I'm A Fool To Want You

8. Yours Is My Heart Alone

x

Track List: At The Opera House

x

Track List: Swinging Brass

1. Stockholm Sweetnin

2. Blues For Big Scotia

3. Close Your Eyes

4. Spirit Feel

5. Cubana Chant

6. Con Alma

7. O.P.

8. Little Pea's Blues

x

Track List: Swings My Fair Lady

1. On The Street Where You Live

2. Show Me

3. Get Me To The Church On Time

4. I Could Have Danced All Night

5. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face

6. Wouldn't It Be Loverly

7. The Rain In Spain

x

Track List: Tenderly

1. Tenderly

2. C Jam Blues

3. That Old Black Magic

4. I Only Have Eyes For You

5. Blue Moon

6. East Of The Sun

7. Just One Of Those Things

8. The Lady Is A Tramp

9. Lover

10. The Song Is You

11. Nuages

12. Tea For Two

13. Don't Get Around Much Anymore

14. Night And Day

15. The Way You Look Tonight

16. Love For Sale

17. You Go To My Head

18. Slow Down

19. Time On My Hands

x

Track List: Live At CBC Studios 1960

1. My Heart Stood Still (Live)

2. Blues For Big Scotia (Live)

3. Autumn Leaves (Live)

4. Sweet Georgia Brown (Live)

5. How About You (Live)

6. I Got Plenty O' Nothin' (Live)

7. Cookin' At The Continental (Live)

8. I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Live)

9. Let There Be Love (Live)

10. Dancing On The Ceiling (Live)

x

Track List: Encore At The Blue Note

1. Falling In Love With Love

2. Here's That Rainy Day

3. Medley: Goodbye Old Girl/He Has Gone

4. The Gentle Waltz

5. Billie's Bounce

6. The More I See You

7. I Wished On The Moon

8. Cool Walk

x

Track List: Live 1953 - At The Blue Note Chicago

2. Heat Wave (Live)

4. Mood (Live)

10. Anything Goes (Live)

11. The Continental (Live)

12. Heat Wave (Live)

x

Track List: Last Call At The Blue Note

1. Jim

2. Yours Is My Heart Alone

3. Medley: It Never Entered My Mind / Body And Soul

4. Wheatland

5. Medley: Our Waltz / Adagio / Bach's Blues

6. March Past

7. Blues Etude

x

Track List: The Good Life

1. Wheatland (Live At The London House)

2. Wave (Live At The London House)

3. For Count (Live At The London House)

4. The Good Life (Live At The London House)

5. On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Live At The London House)

x

Track List: Busting Out With The All Star Big Band

1. Blues For Big Scotia

2. West Coast Blues

3. Here's That Rainy Day

4. I Love You

5. Daahoud

6. Tricrotism

7. I'm Old Fashioned

8. Young And Foolish

9. Manteca

x

Track List: A Portrait Of Frank Sinatra

Disc 1

1. You Make Me Feel So Young

2. Come Dance With Me

3. Learnin' The Blues

4. Witchcraft

5. The Tender Trap

6. Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week

7. I've Got The World On A String

8. Without A Song

9. Just In Time

10. It Happened In Monterey

11. I Get A Kick Out Of You

12. All Of Me

13. Birth Of The Blues

14. How About You

15. My Funny Valentine

16. Ol' Man River

Disc 2

1. The Lady Is A Tramp

2. How Deep Is The Ocean

3. That Old Black Magic

4. It's All Right With Me

5. I Didn't Know What Time It Was

6. A Foggy Day

7. In The Still Of The Night

8. Pick Yourself Up

9. I've Got You Under My Skin

10. Love Is Here To Stay

11. Night And Day

12. Just One Of Those Things

13. I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night

14. Let's Fall In Love

15. Yesterdays

16. I Won't Dance

x

Track List: Pastel Moods

1. You Go To My Head

2. They Can't Take That Away From Me

3. There's A Small Hotel

4. You Turned The Tables On Me

5. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)

6. I Can't Get Started

7. Blue Moon

8. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)

9. My Old Flame

10. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You

11. Serenade In Blue

12. Sweet Lorraine

13. Angel Eyes

14. Unforgettable

15. Moonglow

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Oscar Peterson...o n of the 'Finest' Pianists I have ever heard.....!!
Report as inappropriate
Love his piano playing ,I have in my collection a number of his CDS that i play regulatry Great
Report as inappropriate
used to see him in Stockholm, Sweden with JATP. It was always a treat.
Report as inappropriate
oscarwasoneo f t h e g r a t e s p i a n i s t

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