Oscar Peterson

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) was a Canadian jazz pianist and composer. He was called the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, “O.P.” by his friends,[1] and was a member of jazz royalty.[2] He released over 200 recordings, won seven Grammy Awards, and received other numerous awards and honours over the course of his career. He is considered to have been one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time,[3] who played thousands of live concerts to audiences worldwide in a career lasting more than 65 years.

Peterson grew up in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montreal, Quebec. It was in this predominantly black neighbourhood that he found himself surrounded by the jazz culture that flourished in the early 20th century.[4] At the age of five, Peterson began honing his skills with the trumpet and piano. However, a bout of tuberculosis at age seven prevented him from playing the trumpet again, and so he directed all his attention to the piano. His father, Daniel Peterson, an amateur trumpeter and pianist, was one of his first music teachers, and his sister Daisy taught young Oscar classical piano. Young Oscar was persistent at practicing scales and classical etudes daily, and thanks to such arduous practice he developed his astonishing virtuosity.

As a child, Peterson also studied with Hungarian-born pianist Paul de Marky, a student of Istvan Thomán who was himself a pupil of Franz Liszt, so his training was predominantly based on classical piano. Meanwhile he was captivated by traditional jazz and learned several ragtimes and especially the boogie-woogie. At that time Peterson was called “the Brown Bomber of the Boogie-Woogie.”[5]

At age nine Peterson played piano with control that impressed professional musicians. For many years his piano studies included four to six hours of practice daily. Only in his later years did he decrease his daily practice to just one or two hours. In 1940, at age fourteen, Peterson won the national music competition organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After that victory, he dropped out of school and became a professional pianist working for a weekly radio show, and playing at hotels and music halls.

Some of Peterson’s best playing was as an understated accompanist to singer Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter Roy Eldridge

I met Oscar Peterson twice. The first time was backstage at Carnegie Hall in New York. Oscar was performing with Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass. I managed to get back stage, mainly to meet Ella Fitzgerald. On my way up the stairs, I ran into Oscar Peterson. I didn’t realize what a big guy he was until then. I told him how much I appreciated and loved his music. He stuck out his hand to shake mine and I was shocked because his hand wrapped completely around mine. The second time I met him was years later in 1990. By then I had actually become friends with Ella Fitzgerald. She used to perform at the Fairmont Hotel while I was performing there. She was appearing across the street from the hotel at the Masonic Temple Auditorium along with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass. I was her guest. While I didn’t get to speak with Oscar that time, I enjoyed that concert immensely. Ella and Oscar were getting on in years by that time but they were every bit as good, if not better than the first time I had seen them both a decade earlier.

Peterson resided in a two-storey house on Hammond Road in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, until his death in 2007 of kidney failure.

Here’s Oscar with Ben Webster in 1972 playing, “Sunday”

Here’s Ella and Oscar in 1958 – Jazz at the Philharmonic in Holland. Priceless!!

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, First Hand Account.

Grammy Awards


Year Album Notes Label
1945 I Got Rhythm
1947 Rockin’ in Rhythm
1950 Oscar Peterson at Carnegie Hall Live Mercury
1951 Oscar Peterson Plays Cole Porter
1952 The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio Lester Young
The Astaire Story Fred Astaire Norgran
Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington Mercury
Oscar Peterson Plays George Gershwin
1954 Lionel Hampton Plays Love Songs Lionel Hampton Clef
Hamp’s Big Four Lionel Hampton
Rock with Flip Flip Phillips
Buddy DeFranco and Oscar Peterson Play George Gershwin with Buddy DeFranco
Oscar Peterson Plays Harold Arlen
1955 Sing and Swing with Buddy Rich Buddy Rich Norgran
Ralph Burns Among the JATP’s Ralph Burns
The Wailing Buddy Rich Buddy Rich
Oscar Peterson Plays Count Basie Clef
In a Romantic Mood Verve
1956 Krupa and Rich Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich
Pres and Sweets Lester Young, Harry “Sweets” Edison
Toni Toni Harper
Ellis in Wonderland Herb Ellis
Oscar Peterson at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival Live
Ella and Louis Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong
1957 Anita Sings the Most Anita O’Day
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You Harry “Sweets” Edison
Stuff Smith Stuff Smith
Soft Sands
The Oscar Peterson Trio with Sonny Stitt, Roy Eldridge and Jo Jones at Newport Live, with Sonny Stitt, Roy Eldridge, Jo Jones
Ella and Louis Again Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong
Going for Myself Lester Young, Harry Edison
Jazz Giants ’58 with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Harry “Sweets” Edison
Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio with Stan Getz
Only the Blues Sonny Stitt
Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson with Louis Armstrong
Soulville Ben Webster
The Genius of Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook Ella Fitzgerald
Ella at the Opera House Live, Ella Fitzgerald
Stan Getz and J.J. Johnson at the Opera House Live, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson
1958 Oscar Peterson at the Concertgebouw Live
Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert Live, Ella Fitzgerald
Smooth Operator Dorothy Dandridge
This Is Ray Brown Ray Brown
On the Town with the Oscar Peterson Trio Live
Oscar Peterson Plays “My Fair Lady”
1959 Sonny Stitt Sits In with the Oscar Peterson Trio with Sonny Stitt
A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra
The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the George Gershwin Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Richard Rodgers Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Jerome Kern Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Cole Porter Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Harry Warren Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Irving Berlin Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Harold Arlen Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays the Jimmy McHugh Songbook
Oscar Peterson Plays Porgy & Bess
Swinging Brass with the Oscar Peterson Trio
Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson with Ben Webster
1960 Fiorello!
1961 The Trio Live
The Sound of the Trio Live
Very Tall with Milt Jackson
The London House Sessions Live, released 1997
1962 West Side Story: Oscar Peterson Trio
Bursting Out with the All-Star Big Band!
Something Warm
Put On a Happy Face
Night Train
1963 Bill Henderson with the Oscar Peterson Trio with Bill Henderson
Oscar Peterson and Nelson Riddle with Nelson Riddle
1964 The Oscar Peterson Trio Plays
Action MPS
The Oscar Peterson Trio In Tokyo 1964 Live
Hallelujah Time!
Live and at It’s Very Best Live
Oscar Peterson Trio + One Verve
Canadiana Suite Limelight
We Get Requests Verve
1965 The Lost Tapes: Exclusively for My Friends MPS
Exclusively for My Friends Box set
Eloquence Limelight
With Respect to Nat
Girl Talk
Blues Etude
1966 Soul Español
1967 Jazz at the Philharmonic – The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World Live
1968 The Way I Really Play MPS
Mellow Mood
Travelin’ On
My Favorite Instrument
1969 Motions and Emotions
Hello Herbie
1970 Tristeza on Piano
Walking the Line
Another Day
1971 In Tune with The Singers Unlimited
Reunion Blues with Milt Jackson
Great Connection
1972 The Oscar Peterson Trio in Tokyo Live Denon
Jazz at Santa Monica Civic ’72 Live, various artists Pablo
The History of an Artist, Vol. 1
The History of an Artist, Vol. 2
1973 The Trio with Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group
The Good Life
1974 Terry’s Tune
Basie and Friends Count Basie
Oscar Peterson In Russia Live
Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie with Dizzy Gillespie
Oscar Peterson and The Trumpet Kings – Jousts Live, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist
Satch and Josh with Count Basie
The Giants with Joe Pass, Ray Brown, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist
Oscar Peterson and Roy Eldridge with Roy Eldridge
Oscar Peterson and Harry Edison with Harry “Sweets” Edison
1975 Oscar Peterson et Joe Pass à Salle Pleyel with Joe Pass
Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry with Clark Terry
Ella and Oscar with Ella Fitzgerald
Jazz Maturity…Where It’s Coming From with Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie
Happy Time Roy Eldridge
Oscar Peterson and Jon Faddis with Jon Faddis
Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers Zoot Sims
The Oscar Peterson Big 6 at Montreux Live
The Trumpet Kings at Montreux ’75 Live with Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry
The Milt Jackson Big 4 at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975 Live with Milt Jackson
The Tenor Giants Featuring Oscar Peterson with Zoot Sims, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis
1976 Porgy and Bess with Joe Pass
1977 Roy Eldridge 4 – Montreux ’77 Live, Roy Eldridge
Oscar Peterson Jam – Montreux ’77 Live, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist
The Pablo All-Stars Jam – Montreux ’77 Live, Various Artists
Oscar Peterson and the Bassists – Montreux ’77 Live, Various Artists
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis 4 – Montreux ’77 Live with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis
Satch and Josh…Again with Count Basie
1978 Night Rider with Count Basie
Count Basie Meets Oscar Peterson – The Timekeepers with Count Basie
Yessir, That’s My Baby with Count Basie
How Long Has This Been Going On? Sarah Vaughan
Linger Awhile: Live at Newport and More Sarah Vaughan, released 2000
The Paris Concert Live
The London Concert Live
1979 The Silent Partner
Ain’t Misbehavin’ Clark Terry
Night Child with Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Louie Bellson
Skol with Stephane Grappelli, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker
Digital at Montreux Live
1980 The Personal Touch
The Trumpet Summit Meets the Oscar Peterson Big 4 Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry
The Alternate Blues Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry
Live at the North Sea Jazz Festival, 1980 Live
1981 A Royal Wedding Suite
Nigerian Marketplace Live
Ain’t But a Few of Us Left with Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Grady Tate
1982 Freedom Song Live
Face to Face with Freddie Hubbard
1983 Two of the Few with Milt Jackson
Jazz at the Philharmonic – Yoyogi National Stadium, Tokyo 1983: Return to Happiness Live with various artists
A Tribute to My Friends
If You Could See Me Now
1985 Hark Buddy DeFranco
1986 Oscar Peterson Live! Live
Time After Time
Oscar Peterson + Harry Edison + Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Harry “Sweets” Edison
Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson with Benny Carter
1990 Live at the Blue Note Live, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group, Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist Telarc
Saturday Night at the Blue Note Live, won Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group
Last Call at the Blue Note Live
Encore at the Blue Note Live
1994 Side by Side with Itzhak Perlman
Some of My Best Friends Are…The Piano Players Ray Brown
1995 The More I See You with Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Ray Brown
An Oscar Peterson Christmas
1996 Oscar Peterson Meets Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore with Roy Hargrove, Ralph Moore
Oscar in Paris Live
1997 A Tribute to Oscar Peterson – Live at the Town Hall Live
1998 Oscar and Benny with Benny Green
1999 Summer Night in Munich Live
The Very Tall Band: Live at the Blue Note Live
2000 Trail of Dreams: A Canadian Suite A Jazz suite with strings conducted by Michel Legrand
2004 A Night in Vienna Live Verve
2007 The Very Tall Band: What’s Up? Live Telarc

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the extensive listing of Oscar, there are a few albums of his I need to listen to.

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