Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Peterson


Oscar Peterson speelt “O Dennenboom”

Op 23 december 2007 overleed Oscar Peterson in Mississauga (Canada). De ” Maharadja Of  The Keybord” , zoals Ellington hem noemde, liet een enorme muzikale nalatenschap na die in de wereld van jazzpianisten ongeëvenaard is.

Oscar PetersonMet een fabelachtige techniek, die hij nog elke dag bijhield door het spelen van toonladders, maar ook met zijn grote muzikaliteit hield hij miljoenen jazzfans decennia lang in de ban van zijn muziek.

Er was echter ook kritiek door mensen die vonden dat hij teveel noten speelde en daar is soms best iets voor te zeggen.

Ter nagedachtenis aan deze jazzgigant en als demonstratie van zijn harmonische kunnen hierbij het eenvoudige O Dennenboom, een prachtig miniatuurtje van de grote meester.


Ter Nagedachtenis aan Oscar Peterson


Vandaag 23 december is het op de kop af vijf jaar geleden dat de “Maharadja van het Klavier” (zo genoemd door Duke Ellington) overleed. Oscar Peterson werd in 1949 ontdekt ontdekt door impressario Norman Granz. Die was voor zaken in Toronto en terug op weg naar het vliegveld toen hij tijdens de taxirit een fantastische pianist op de radio hoorde. De taxichauffeur die wist wie en waar het was kreeg van Granz opdracht om rechtsomkeert te maken en zo ontmoette Norman Granz voor het eerst Oscar Peterson.

Granz was zo onder de indruk van Peterson’s kwaliteiten dat hij hem dat jaar naar New York haalde voor een concert in Carnegie Hall. Het zou het begin worden van een lange samenwerking waarbij Granz als platenbaas en manager van Peterson diens carriere tot grote hoogte bracht. Als is het aannemelijk dat Peterson het ook zonder hem ver zou hebben geschopt.

Uit de vele video’s die er van Peterson zijn is het moeilijk kiezen maar zijn (en dat van zijn trio) uitvoering van Nigerian Market Place is en blijft heel bijzonder.


Seymour Lefco: The Jazz Dentist.

On September 6, 2006, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle published an article, announcing “Milwaukee native and renowned “jazz dentist” Seymour Lefco died on Aug. 28 at age 91. He practiced general dentistry in the city of Milwaukee for more than 50 years, and was a board member of the Wisconsin State Dental Society. He was known as “the jazz dentist” because many great jazz musicians sought him out for dental work”.

Among those were Harry Belafonte, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, singer Anita O’Day, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillepie and Gerry Mulligan. Although the news itself is rather sad the story behind is interesting as not many dentist will be able to call themselves”jazz dentist” having had such jazz greats as patients. But what makes the story so special ?

During a concert in The Concertgebouw in my hometown Amsterdam (The Netherlands) Oscar Peterson announced he had gotten a song from Ray Brown, composed by a young man from Washington D.C. by the name of Clement Wells. The song was called”You Look Good To Me” which became a signature song of the Peterson Trio with Ray Brown on double bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. They recorded the song on the wellknown album “We Get Requests“.

Now back to the article in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle where it was stated that Ray Brown also gave the song too Seymour Lefco who wrote the  lyrics for it. Leaves the question: who was Clement Wells ? At least on the internet I could not find anything, with the exception of a letter to the editor I found in a magazine callled Ebony, in which a Clement A Wells Jr. wrote about a tribute to Joe Louis.

The central figure in this story is Ray Brown who brought all the players together, but the intriguing question is, “who was Clement Wells ?”. Where did he live, did he write more songs ? Did he have a musical carreer ? In other words who was he ?

As I could not find anything I address this question to my American jazzfriends: can you please help me out finding who Clement Wells was ?


Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice (last episode).

Norman Granz - 1918 -2001.

This is the last blogpost about the live of  Norman Granz, based on the book “Norman Granz, The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice” by Tad Hershorn.

On November 22, 2001, Norman Granz died in bed in his Geneva appartment in the early hours of the morning. His tremendous contribution to the world of jazz will never be forgotten. As founder of the Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts which he rolled out in the USA, Europe and Japan, his innovative first live jazz recordings, the Clef, Norgran,Verve and Pablo labels he founded, his business management over decades for Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, his commitment to numerous and famous jazz musicians, his involvement in the Montreux Jazz Festivals, one can say the world of jazz would have looked totally different without him.

As The Los Angeles Time wrote: “Norman Granz set the business of jazz through most of the twentieth century. He helped end the two-track system in which white players generally earned more than blacks and helped integrate jazz on a large commercial scale”. An extensive interview with author Tad Hershorn of the book cab be found on JazzWax. To close the circle, here is the famous Coleman Hawkins version of “Body and Soul”  which made Norman Granz a jazz fan when he heard this for the first time in his life.


Norman Granz presents film: “IMPROVISATION” with unique Charlie Parker / Coleman Hawkins duet

Gjon Mili shooting Improvisation (Google / LIFE Images)

In 1950 Norman Granz started to produce a new short film with photographer Gjon Mili as sequel to their earlier film Jammin’ The Blues“. It was only released in 1996 as part of a film called “Improvisation”  which included a compilation of performances of Granz’ musicians over the 1950 – 1970 timeframe. Several parts of this film are on You Tube available (at least until the day of writing this blogpost).


Part 3 – Announced by Norman Granz, this part of the film is about a piece performed by the rythm section with Hank Jones (piano), Ray Brown (bass) and Buddy Rich on drums.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4



Basie’s jam with Ray and Jimmy in “Nob’s Blues”.

Through his involvement in the famous Montreux Jazz Festivals Norman Granz used the ample opportunities the festival gave him to promote his Pablo musicians. As someone said, “Granz is not an innovator but a popularizer”. That remains to be seen in the light of history but fact of the matter is that through Montreux he used a lot of commercial opportunities like selling records and video’s / DVD’s of the festival. In 1977 he put together a group of musicians lead by Count Basie. In this video we hear the announcement of Norman Granz introducing the Basie Trio with Ray Brown and drummer Jimmie Smith in a brilliant jam playing Nob’s Blues.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Norman Granz introduces the Clark Terry Sextet at The Montreux Jazz Festival.

Ella and Norman (on the background Joe Pass)

In 1975 Norman Granz got heavily involved in the Montreux Jazz Festival In Switzerland when director Claude Nobs gave Granz three nights of programming as a showcase for his Pablo Records artists. The Montreux Casino was equipped with television capabilities, so the proceedings were videotaped. Granz’ involvement in Montreux lasted till 1983 during which period he relased video’s and recordings of this main jazz event. In the video below we see a group of musicians performing in Montreux in the best JATP tradition. It is The Clark Terry Sextet with Terry on flugelhorn, Milt Jackson (vibes), Joe Pass (guitar), Ronnie Scott (tenorsax), Oscar Peterson (piano), Niels-Henning Pedersen (double bass) and Bobby Durham (drums) in a nice swinging composition called ” Minor Blues”.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

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