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December 25, 2007

Canadian Jazz Piano Legend Oscar Peterson Dies

Written by
cindy mcleod

jazz news, Canada

oscarpeterson1

Oscar Peterson
1925-2007

Jazz World Mourns Loss of Piano Giant

Virtuoso jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, whose dazzling technique and swinging style raised him to the very pinnacle of jazz music, has died. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Peterson died Sunday of kidney failure at his home in Mississigua, Ontario. He was 82.

In a career that spanned decades, the legendary musician performed at Carnegie Hall and shared the stage with fellow greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Duke Ellington, who once called him the “Maharajah of the Keyboard.”

Born in working-class Montreal on August 15, 1925 as one of five children, he first studied with his sister Daisy. He began performing professionally on radio and in a school band with fellow Canadian jazz great Maynard Ferguson.

He got his first big break in the last 1940’s when record producer Norman Grantz brought him to New York to appear in one of his now-legendary “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concerts.

Peterson soon rose to the top as one of the world’s finest jazz musicians, building a legacy that includes hundreds of recordings and thousands of appearances around the globe.

After briefly taking a break from performing after suffering a stroke in the early 1990’s, Peterson resumed playing with a weakened left hand, causing many to comment that he still out-played most pianists with two good hands.

Throughout his career Peterson was recognized with numerous awards and accolades, collecting eight Grammy’s including a Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), and in 2004 was bestowed with this nation’s highest civilian honour when named a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 2005, Canada Post marked Peterson’s contribution to music with a 50-cent stamp.

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