[JPL] Jazz Pianists Pay Tribute to Peterson
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 26 12:09:39 EST 2007
December 26, 2007
Jazz Pianists Pay Tribute to Peterson
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 7:12 a.m. ET
NEW YORK (AP) -- Oscar Peterson's dazzling keyboard
technique, commanding sense of swing and mastery of
different piano styles could leave even his most
accomplished peers awe-struck. His death brought forth
tributes from jazz pianists spanning the generations.
Fellow jazz piano legend Dave Brubeck said he was
''saddened by the news of Oscar's passing.'' Peterson
died Sunday of kidney failure at his home in the
Toronto suburb of Mississauga.
The 87-year-old Brubeck recalled the first time he
ever heard a Peterson recording shortly after jazz
impresario Norman Granz introduced the Canadian
pianist to American audiences at a 1949 Carnegie Hall
''I was in awe,'' Brubeck wrote in an e-mail Tuesday
to The Associated Press. ''Every jazz pianist would
soon know that Oscar was a master.''
Decades later, Brubeck found himself asked to help
fill in at a 1993 Carnegie Hall concert after Peterson
had to cancel his appearance because he had suffered a
''Ahmad Jamal, McCoy Tyner and I were asked to come to
Carnegie Hall and take Oscar's place, when he was
unable to perform. I'm not sure that the three of us
playing at the top of our form were able to fill his
shoes, but we gave it a try. Oscar, as Duke Ellington
would say, was `beyond category.'''
Herbie Hancock, another jazz piano legend, said
Peterson's influence could be found ''in the
generations that came after him.''
''Oscar Peterson redefined swing for modern jazz
pianists for the latter half of the 20th century up
until today,'' Hancock, 67, wrote in an e-mail. ''I
consider him the major influence that formed my roots
in jazz piano playing. He mastered the balance between
technique, hard blues grooving, and tenderness. ... No
one will ever be able to take his place.''
Peterson had a similar impact on a young Diana Krall
growing up in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She was
spotted playing in local clubs by bassist Ray Brown, a
longtime member of the Oscar Peterson Trio, who
encouraged her to move to Los Angeles.
Peterson ''was the reason I became a jazz pianist,''
the 43-year-old singer-pianist told the Los Angeles
Times. ''In my high school yearbook it says that my
goal is to become a jazz pianist like Oscar Peterson.
''I didn't know then we'd become such close friends
over the years. We were together at his house in
October, playing and singing songs together. Now it's
almost impossible for me to think of him in the past
While Peterson was known for his lightning-fast
keyboard runs, jazz piano veteran Hank Jones called
attention to his finesse and deft touch on melodic
''He had a beautiful approach to ballads, which a lot
of pianists forget,'' the 89-year-old Jones told The
Marian McPartland, host of National Public Radio's
long-running ''Piano Jazz'' series, called Peterson
''the finest technician that I have seen.'' She
recalled first meeting Peterson when she and her
husband, jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland, opened for
him at the Colonial Tavern in Toronto in the 1940s.
''He was always wonderful to me and I have always felt
very close to him,'' the 89-year-old jazz pianist said
in a statement. ''I played at his tribute concert at
Carnegie Hall earlier this year and performed
`Tenderly,' which was always my favorite piece of
The youngest pianist appearing at the tribute was
20-year-old Eldar Djangirov, who played the fast tempo
''Place St. Henri,'' named for the Montreal district
where Peterson grew up.
Djangirov said he decided to become a jazz musician
after listening to Peterson's records as a boy growing
up in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan -- an
indication of how far Peterson's reach spread.
''He was the first I ever heard and my main artistic
influence,'' Djangirov said. ''He would play things
with one hand that most piano players couldn't do with
both of their hands.''
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