[JPL] Carnegie Hall Gets All Jazzed Up For Famed Pianist Oscar Peterson

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Fri Jun 15 18:54:16 EDT 2007

2007-06-15 11:02 (New York)


Carnegie Hall Gets All Jazzed Up For Famed Pianist Oscar Peterson

Carnegie Hall Gets All Jazzed Up For Famed Pianist Peterson

Review by Jeremy Gerard
     June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Last night's tribute to pianist Oscar
Peterson, an evening-long affair at Carnegie Hall assembled by
producers Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta with care and obvious
affection, lacked the Canadian jazz maestro himself, though not
his spirit. One imagines the indisposed Peterson's ears were
burning from the very first number -- pianist Roger Kellaway,
guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Christian McBride on ``I
Was Doing All Right'' -- to the appearance some three hours
later by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, leading the program into its
high-spirited conclusion. By then, a phalanx of all stars young
and, mostly, vintage, had swung at the altar of the beloved
figure, carrying the nearly-packed house along with them.
     That first trio was itself a tribute to Peterson's own,
famously drummerless group. Kellaway doubled as the evening's
musical director, a role he played equally brilliantly, with a
series of memorable pairings and one tightly performed number
followed by the next.
     The first, for example, was followed with the introduction
of clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera and drummer Lewis Nash, both of
them staggeringly fleet fingered and creative, taking ``The Lady
Is a Tramp'' to stratospheric, whimsical heights, with Kellaway
himself effortlessly revving into high gear.
     So many keyboard luminaries came to praise Oscar it was a
wonder the evening ever ended. Among the veterans: Hank Jones,
Marian McPartland, Mulgrew Miller and Freddy Cole. The younger
generation was represented by two players delivering scenes from
Peterson's homage to his Canadian homeland, ``Canadiana Suite'':
Renee Rosnes and the uni-named Eldar, who tore through his piece
at breakneck speed without sacrificing feeling: This young
phenom is growing before our eyes, maturing with every gasp-
inducing performance.
     Other highlights included trumpeter Clark Terry reprising
his and Peterson's brilliant 60's scat-com, ``Mumbles,'' and Dee
Dee Bridgewater's gorgeous cover of ``How High the Moon.'' Among
the other vocalists, the only disappointment was Hilary Kole's
tortured ``Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,'' draining the
great Rodgers and Hart lyric of any wit.
     Two more contributor must be noted: violinist Florin
Niculescu, channeling Stephane Grappelli; and cellist Borislav
Strulev, channeling no one, or perhaps God. They only added to
the felt presence of Oscar Peterson, not only in their dazzling
expertise, but nearly as important, in the impeccable taste that
marked this concert from beginning to end.

     (Jeremy Gerard is an editor for Bloomberg News. The
opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Hoelterhoff (Burke).

Story illustration: For more cultural news and reviews from
Bloomberg, see {MUSE <GO>}.

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