Great Canadians of the 20th Century #13
Oscar Peterson dies at 82

Oscar Peterson (1925-2007)

Not just Canada's greatest jazz musician, but one of the most talented players the music ever produced, whether swinging hard with his trio (the Ray Brown/Herb Ellis years are hard to beat) in the '50s or matching melodic wits with a variety of fellow geniuses, from Count Basie to Dizzy Gillespie, on a series of duet LPs for Pablo in the '60s. Peterson was a gifted and generous artist, an accomplished composer, and by all accounts a humble and unassuming man who came to life the moment skin touched ivory.

Listening to a live recording of Peterson with bassist Brown and guitarist Ellis from 1958, I can hear a joy and enthusiasm for playing that never gets in the way of delicate, finely measured finger work. Perhaps not a maverick like Art Tatum or Thelonious Monk, Peterson nevertheless brought a new level of sophistication and a higher standard of musicianship to his instrument that many have learned from, but few have mastered.

The Globe and Mail obituary can be found here

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