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Sat, 08.15.1925

Oscar Peterson, Pianist born

Oscar Peterson

*Oscar Peterson was born on this date in 1925. He was a Black Canadian jazz musician and composer.

From Montreal, Canada, he is the son of Jamaican immigrant parents.  His classical studies on piano started when he was six; eight years later, he won a local talent competition.  He went on to appear regularly on a Montreal radio station with the Johnny Holmes Orchestra. A young Peterson merged the styles of  Art Tatum, Errol Garner, and Nat "King" Cole on piano. When Norman Granz heard his talent, he featured him in Carnegie Hall in his Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts and signed him to his Verve record label.

With instrumentation that featured bass, guitar, and piano, Peterson formed a popular trio with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis in the 1950s.  Later, drummer Ed Thigpen joined, and the combo worked steadily for the next two decades.  His tribute to his homeland, The Canadian Suite, was nominated for a Grammy in 1965, and his praise to Cole, With Respect To Nat, is one of his best-loved recordings.  He also recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and others. If Art Tatum was the "God" of the jazz piano, his protégé, Oscar Peterson, is his only-begotten son.  Since his emergence in the early '40s, Peterson's classically trained and blues-hued intensity has set the benchmark for jazz piano excellence.

He won seven Grammy awards (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2 in 1990, 1991) and was also influenced by: Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. In addition to the trio, Peterson performed and recorded in several settings, from solo piano to orchestral, always establishing the keyboard yardstick.  After a stroke limited his left-hand work, Peterson continued to perform.  Oscar Peterson died on December 24th, 2007.

To Become a Musician or Singer

To Become a Conductor or Composer



All That Jazz The Illustrated Story of Jazz Music
General Editor: Ronald Atkins
Copyright 1996, Carlton Books Limited
ISBN 0-76519-953-X

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