Montreal's pianist Oscar Peterson (1925) was a virtuoso (worthy of Art Tatum) in
the age of bebop, the antithesis of virtuosity. He mastered the techniques of
stride piano, boogie-woogie and pop balladry, and rarely challenged his
audience. By 1950 he was widely considered the greatest jazz pianist.
1951 (march 1951) was a collaboration with trumpeter Austin Roberts.
Pastel Moods (january 1952) was his first trio album, a typical set of
atmospheric themes for piano, guitar and bass.
The trio he formed in 1953 with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown
refined that idea via Recital (april 1954), At Zardi's (november 1955)
while Peterson also engaged in countless tedious tribute albums,
collaborations with Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, etc.
The subsequent trio of 1958 with only bass (Brown) and drums (Ed Thigpen)
started out with
Affinity (september 1962) and Night Train (december 1962), with Hymn To Freedom,
and perhaps peaked on
Trio Plus One (august 1964) with trumpeter Clark Terry.
They also recorded Peterson's first major composition:
the eight-song Canadiana Suite (september 1964).
Then the classic trio lost its drummer, and the line-up began to fluctuate,
although albums such as Blues Etude (december 1965) were not much different
from the previous ones.
After many years of vegetating next to other dinosaurs, a rebirth of sort led
Peterson to a handful of inspired recordings:
The Trio (may 1973) with Joe Pass on guitar and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on bass, five elegant pieces that summarize his style
Easy Listening Blues,
Night Child (april 1979) with Pass, Pedersen and a drummer;
Nigerian Marketplace (july 1981) with Pedersen on bass and Terry Clark on drums;
If You Could See Me Now (november 1983), again with Pedersen, Pass and a drummer;
as well as to (finally) composing a few orchestral suites:
African Suite (1979),
A Royal Wedding Suite (april 1981) for piano and orchestra;
Easter Suite (1984),
Trail of Dreams (april 2000).
Peterson died in december 2007.
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