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June 15, 2008

Oscar Peterson Collection Donated by Renowned Photographer Al Gilbert

Written by
cindy mcleod

jazz news, Canada

Photos Find Home at the Oscar Peterson Public School

Photographer Al Gilbert has made a significant donation to the Oscar Peterson Public School in Mississauga with a gift of a photo collection comprised of images of the legendary Canadian pianist whose name the school bears.

The collection is taken from over a dozen photo sessions spanning the past sixty years and is valued at $30,000. The photos, which were donated by Gilbert at a special Mayor’s tribute to Peterson in February of this year, will be displayed throughout the school.

Al Gilbert and Oscar Peterson began their working relationship more than sixty years ago when Peterson stepped into a cab in Toronto driven by Gilbert’s brother-in-law. The musician, then an unknown, was in need of a promotional snapshot and Al Gilbert was recommended for the job. Thus began a lifetime business relationship, with Gilbert becoming Peterson’s photographer of choice. Considered some of the finest images ever taken of the iconic pianist, perhaps the most recognizable is the image of the pianist with his hands in the foreground (see above).

The two men also shared a passion for photography and cameras, during their lifetime friendship Peterson would act as Gilbert’s “model” whenever the photographer had new equipment to try out.

Both men became legendary in their respective fields with each receiving the nation’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada. In 2007 at the age of 85, Al Gilbert became the first Canadian to be presented with the Professional Photographers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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