The extraordinary jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, died nine years ago tomorrow. He is known for his collaborative work, especially with the many incarnations of his trio and for teaching and mentoring young musicians. He has won a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and is an inductee in the International Jazz Hall of Fame.
In 1961, after a performance in Chicago with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, he sits down and talks with Studs. Studs is in for a real treat – Oscar doesn’t just talk, but uses the piano to illustrate what he says. When Studs asks about his influences, Oscar plays them for him. And when Oscar talks about his absolute pitch and ability to hear notes outside of a chord, he plays a part of a Chopin etude to demonstrate what he means.
This interview gives us a rare insight into how a musician thinks about his music, and how a jazz musician thinks about creating a new kind of melody. Peterson describes himself as a player, not a writer, and we have the opportunity to hear that in action.
photo credit: By Tom Marcello Webster, New York, USA – Oscar Peterson portrait -1977, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3889466