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TRIBUTE

Sadly, on 23rd December, 2007, Oscar Peterson, one of the world's greatest pianists' and musicians' passed away, leaving a void in jazz music that can never be filled.

Many words, articles, and tributes will be written and spoken about Oscar, but the idea of this particular tribute is to give some names and facts that will probably never be mentioned. This is because the majority of the media, will not check out various items,  which requires very little effort in this technological and information rich world, in order to ascertain facts which I feel should be referred to as a courtesy to those involved. I experienced this when Ronnie Scott died, when just a few enquiries would have got the information correct. It is also a stranger than fiction coincidence, that Ronnie Scott died 11 years ago, to the day, in 1996. May God rest both of their souls.

Not many people know, for example, that after Oscar had his devastating stroke in 1993, if it hadn't been for the superb bass player, David Young from Toronto, taking his double bass round to Oscar's house and cajoling him to start playing once more, Oscar might indeed have never played again.

Niels and I received the call to go back on the road again with him, after the stroke.  When we restarted, it was quite nerve racking at first, as Oscar couldn't remember all the head arrangements we had before his stroke, and neither could Niels, although for some strange reason  I could.  However, it didn't take very long for Oscar and Niels to "get it together", and pretty soon we were back to "kicking arse" again!  Thinking on one's feet was always de rigueur with Oscar, and nothing changed even after his stroke!  I found it extremely moving and humbling that despite all the various problems he had to deal with, he still gave his all whenever he played.

Some of the finest drummers in the world worked with him. Among them was Gene Gammage, Ray Price, Ed Thigpen, who was involved in most of the classic recordings, Bobby Durham, Louis Hayes, Louis Bellson, Terry Clarke, Lewis Nash, Kenny Clarke, Jake Hanna, Jeff Hamilton, Alvin Queen, and myself (from 1974 until the end of 2003, my last gig and recording being, "A Night in Vienna").

Bass players included, Ray Brown, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, Sam Jones, Ken Baldock, George Mraz, Ron Mathewson, David Young, Pat Collins, and John Heard. I'm sure that when Niels died, Oscar must have been absolutely devastated. Their playing and friendship, had become so closely intertwined after so many years, I wondered how Oscar managed to carry on, but he never really knew the meaning of the word "quit!"

Guitar players ranged from Irving Ashby, Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, Lorne Lofsky, Herb Ellis, to Ulf Wakenius. I remember so well some of the musical "duelling" that took place, on tunes like "Sweet Georgia Brown", helping to make the group so exciting. Any musician who worked in any of Oscar's groups will tell you that he never took any prisoners!

Oscar was always his own man, demanding no less from the individuals in his various groups than he demanded from himself, and therefore always had one of the finest groups in the world. The different musicians he used all brought unique things to the group's sound. He knew this, of course, and relished the fact. That was why Oscar used contrasting musicians in order to initiate change and give the group a different, distinctive sound or feel. For example, Niels and Ray were two fantastic bass players, who both brought a totally inimitable, but different "feel" to the group, which he loved, and inspired him.

The jazz world has indeed suffered a profound loss, but with so much of Oscar's work available on various recordings, at least we can all rejoice in hearing and seeing some of the breathtaking, magical playing that was Oscar's forte. Tragically, we will not hear the like again, live.

Martin Drew.  January 2008

 

The Oscar Peterson Years

 

Here is a list of some of the record albums and CDs that Martin has recorded with the amazing and legendary jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, together with a galaxy of fantastic musicians.


1. Trail of Dreams
2. A Summer Night In Munich
3. Live At The Salle Pleyel
4. Oscar Peterson Live in Los Angeles
5. Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson
6. BBC Jazz Legends Live At The Barbican
7. Oscar Peterson + Harry Edison + Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
8. A Tribute To My Friends
9. If You Could See Me Now
10. Eximious
11. Face To Face
12. Freedom Song
13. A Royal Wedding Suite

 

 

 

 

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NEW COURIERS    NEW COURIER SOUNDS    NEW COURIER REVIEWS    THE OSCAR PETERSON YEARS &TRIBUTE