Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oscar Peterson...

...is gone. He was 82.

Oscar was the first to make me actually appreciate and enjoy the piano. Even before I had heard Art Tatum -- whom Peterson admired; he once said listening to Tatum made him want to push his piano out the window -- I was enthralled by what Peterson could do.

Not only did he have the technique of a giant, allowing him to play with astonishing complexity, but he knew when simplicity served his music best.

Better musicians than I could ever hope to be summed him up well: Duke Ellington referred to him as "Maharajah of the keyboard." Bill ("Count") Basie said, "Oscar Peterson plays the best ivory box I've ever heard."

Oddly enough, I was listening to an album of piano duets he made with the great Basie on Sunday, the day of Oscar's passing. The two men were totally in sync as they played; it was difficult to tell where one left off and the other began.

Those I've met over the years who knew him told me Oscar was a kind and vibrant man. I'd guessed that from listening to him.

Being at an age when so many of my musical inspirations are gone, Oscar's death hits hard. I was always hoping for more from him....

Rest in peace, Oscar.

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