August 15th, 1925 – December 23, 2007
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC CQ OOnt was a Canadian jazz pianist and composer. He was called the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, but simply “O.P.” by his friends. He released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists, and played thousands of concerts worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years.
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC, CQ, OOnt, jazz pianist, composer, educator (born 15 August 1925 in Montréal, QC; died 23 December 2007 in Mississauga, ON). One of Canada’s most honoured musicians, Oscar Peterson was widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. A highly accomplished soloist renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style, he earned the nicknames “the brown bomber of boogie-woogie” and “master of swing.” A prolific recording artist, he typically released several albums a year from the 1950s until his death. He also appeared on more than 200 albums by other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, who called him “the man with four hands.” Inevitably, his sensitivity in these supporting roles, as well as his acclaimed compositions such as Canadiana Suite and “Hymn to Freedom,” were overshadowed by his stunning virtuosity as a soloist. Also a noted jazz educator and advocate for racial equality, Peterson won a Juno Awardand eight Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. The first recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the International Jazz Hall of Fame. He was also made an Officer and then Companion of the Order of Canada, and an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters in France, among many other honours.
Canada’s First Jazz Star
Peterson made his first recordings for RCA Victor in March 1945. These early releases, notably “I Got Rhythm” and “The Sheik of Araby,” reveal the predilection for boogie-woogie that earned him the nickname “the brown bomber of boogie-woogie.” They also revealed, in nascent form, the extraordinary piano technique that would characterize his playing throughout his career. Peterson made sixteen 78s (32 songs in total) for RCA Victor between 1945 and 1949, the last of which suggest the influence of bebop. These songs were compiled on CD by BMG France in 1994 and repackaged by BMG Canada in 1996 as The Complete Young Oscar Peterson (1945–1949).
-The Canadian Encyclopedia-