Wednesday, December 26, 2007
And the Oscar Goes To... Heaven
Rock Turtleneck has been an obituary-palooza in recent weeks, marking the passing of Dan Fogelberg, Ike Turner, and that dude from Quiet Riot - man, the holidays are rough. But in terms of musical import, the passing of Oscar Peterson, one of the true jazz giants, trumps them all.
Oscar Peterson was born near Montreal in 1925 and grew up to be considered, along with Art Tatum, the most fleet-fingered ivory-tickler in jazz history. As today's New York Times obituary notes,
"Mr. Peterson was one of the greatest virtuosos in jazz, with a piano technique that was always meticulous and ornate and sometimes overwhelming. But rather than expand the boundaries of jazz, he used his gifts in the service of moderation and reliability, gratifying his devoted audiences whether he was playing in a trio or solo or accompanying some of the most famous names of jazz."
I could go on and on about Oscar Peterson's superlative technique, employment of dynamics and stunning harmonic themes. Actually, I couldn't, because I know virtually nothing about jazz piano, and even less about music theory. But as the clips below demonstrate, one need not be a scholar to recognize genius in action. Once you're done, head to your favorite music retailer and class up your music collection with a little Oscar Peterson - really, how much classic rock and shoegazing indie-pop can we listen to? RIP & TCB, OP.
Oscar Peterson Trio, "The Theme" (WARNING: EXTREMELY HOT)
Oscar Peterson Trio with Nat King Cole & Coleman Hawkins, "Sweet Lorraine"
Oscar Peterson & Count Basie, "Slow Blues"
Oscar Peterson Trio Live at Newport, Sometime Before Dylan Went Electric