I was very sad to hear that jazz legend, Oscar Peterson passed away a week ago. Though I make no claims to be an authority on jazz, I would describe myself as a casual fan of the genre, as my taste for 50's/60's swing vocalists is certainly closely related. My preference in jazz has been for the lighter, melodic practitioners, and particularly those who cover the standards of The Great American Songbook. Certainly Oscar Peterson covered his share of the songs I love in his own inimitable style.
Born in Montreal, Oscar was certainly a source of pride to we Canadians for having become a jazz pianist of world renown. And unlike so many Canadian performers who move to the U.S. once they hit the big time, Oscar Peterson chose to remain in Canada, settling into a typical suburban neighbourhood here in Mississauga Ontario, the city where I also currently reside. In fact, it has been something of a thrill to know that the great man lived less than 10 miles away from my house. I remember looking him up in a celebrity address directory I bought awhile back and had always intended to drive over to his street in the hopes of getting a glimpse of him. Alas, I never did get around to it and, since Oscar had been in poor health and mostly confined to a wheelchair these last several years, I regret that I never went to try and meet him back when I might have had a chance to. I was happy to read in the articles since his death that he was very much an average guy who was quite social with his neighbours, ever a kind and modest man.
I recalled I had a videotaped concert from the early 90's on Oscar, so I played it recently in order to get this caricature of him. Though I had hoped to take it to finished ink and colour like most of what I've been posting, I actually kind of like the energy in this rough sketch, so I've decided to post it as is. Since jazz itself is often spontaneously played, I think it maybe makes sense to show this equally spontaneous rough drawing of Oscar. However, I do intend to finish it up in due time and may post up the finished piece later.
I've got a number of Oscar Peterson's albums on CD. My favourite is his "Canadiana Suite", which is all his own compositions. There's also a great team-up with him and vibraphonist, Lionel Hampton, on the Verve label that is quite wonderful. I really should try to get the album he did with Count Basie, whom I also really enjoy. Anyway, on a final note, here is a clip of the great Oscar Peterson that looks like it dates back about 10 years prior to the source of my caricature of him. For such a giant of a man, it is amazing to me just how nimble those fingers were - Enjoy!