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A Piano Lesson for Dick Cavett from the Late Jazz Great Oscar Peterson
August 2, 2015  | By Jim Davis  | 1 comment
 

My list of favorite jazz pianists include some who are universally admired -- Red Garland, Teddy Wilson, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Count Basie, Bud Powell -- and the unjustly obscure Lennie Tristano. But the pianist I constantly circle back to is Oscar Peterson.

This 7-minute video from an old Dick Cavett show quickly illustrates Peterson's appeal.

Cavett gets Peterson to provide examples of various styles of jazz piano, demonstrating his mastery of each. The video also serves as a reminder of how most of today's television interviewers fall far short of the Cavett model  -- effortlessly graceful and erudite. Charming but unobtrusive.

Peterson, who died in 2007, was born in Canada to immigrants from the West Indies. His father and sister taught him to play classical piano, which he continued to practice throughout his career,  probably attributing to his exceptional artistry.

He was also a composer. His greatest composition, the 1962 “Hymn to Freedom,” is often called the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The blues-based tribute to hymns from his childhood is included in his album Night Train, with Peterson, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Ed Thigpen. Here is the entire album, but you can skip to the hymn if you prefer at 39:36 in, the 11th track.

His 1950s recordings with Brown, who also happens to be my favorite bassist, mark the formation of one of the longest lasting partnerships in the history of jazz. Over the years they formed notable trios with the likes of Herb Ellis, Charlie Smith, Irving Ashby, and Barney Kessel in addition to Thigpen.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy of Night Train, you can find it here.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
MAS
Outstanding! Thanks for posting
Aug 7, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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