Winner of 1 JUNO Award, 7 nominations
Oscar Peterson is, quite simply, the world’s greatest jazz pianist and one of the greatest virtuosos in jazz. Gene Lees wrote in Down Beat, “If there are pianists who rival Oscar’s speed, they lack his virility and blues-rooted power. If there are those who rival his power, they lack his absolute mastery of the instrument.” Benny Green comments about the absolute eloquence of Oscar Peterson at the concert grand; “There is nothing to be said about such playing except that it is a great privilege as well a great pleasure to listen to it.” Over the years, Peterson has won numerous awards that support the praise he has received from distinguished music critics. Among them are the Down Beat Award for 12 consecutive years as the Best Jazz Pianist; the coveted Playboy Award; and the Grammy in 1975.
His local reputation brought offers for him to come to the United States, but he stayed in Canada until September 1949 when the respected entrepreneur Norman Granz brought him to New York for an appearance with “Jazz at the Philharmonic”: presented at Carnegie Hall.
In recent years the Canadian virtuoso has devoted more time to composing. His best known work is the landscape, Canadiana Suite, each movement of which signifies some area of Canada that has captured his imagination. For a few fortunate years in the sixties, Peterson taught jazz at the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, a school he founded with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. Peterson’s schedule on the road forced him to close its doors, although it had attracted students from all over the United States.
Analyzing his own contribution, and that of his Trio, Peterson once said, “My group has always retained that fire, that feeling of pressure, of playing with honesty. I could never think of giving up what I’m doing, I could never, for instance, settle down and become a studio musician. That kind of job was offered to me years ago, but it doesn’t represent the way I want to live.”