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Oscar Peterson Quartet

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Eric Jackson, Nov 17, 2003.


  1. Went to see Oscar Peterson November 14th at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto.

    Opening act was Molly Johnson- great jazz/ blues singer, great stage presence, good four piece band, surprise of the night was her bassist Michael Downs. Nice sound (a bit much finger noise), tastey player, played double and triple stops and guitar-style patterns like Lynn Seaton. Half hour set.

    Oscar had played a televised event the previous night and was in a wheelchair then. Friday he walked on and off stage with a very slow, pained, deliberate shuffle. When he spoke to the audience his voice sounded rather feeble and breathy. BUT, the man can still play piano!!!. Programme said his 1993 stroke debilitated his left hand somewhat, but he had struggled back. His playing- with both hands- was strong, dynamic and articulate throughout his 1 3/4 hour show. They played lots of recognizable old chestnuts, for the hometown crowd there were tunes from his Canadiana Suite, City Lights (penned for the city of Toronto), he debuted a piece recently written and dedicated to the memory of some of the people the music world has lost in the last year,"...including my bassist of 16 years Ray Brown, and to my son, Oscar junior, who is currently fighting for his life." (?) This piece started with a long, magnificent, melancholy piano solo. They closed with a blazing version of "Cute" that had to be 300 bpm+. Oscar shuffled slowly offstage as a capacity crowd gave him an extended standing ovation. No encore, I don't think anyone wanted to put him through the struggle of walking back to the piano.
    Drummer Martin Drew was smooth and complimentary all night, only soloed twice.
    Gutiarist Ulf Wakenius was excellent, fast and clean, imaginative, and played some really nice supportive rhythm most of the time, rather than just laying out.
    Niels Henning Orsted Pederson- The man is truly a master. He played the same gamba- cornered flatback with hatpeg tuners that he seems to have had forever. Nice thick, woody, focused sound, not overly electric sounding. His intonation was flawless, he played some beautiful, beautiful lines, especially in very slow tunes where his singing sustain and use of multiple stops and harmonics was spectacular. I was a bit surprised that there were a few "licks" that he used often. And of course he can still pack 64 notes into a bar when he wants to. Cleanly. The speed at which he traverses the entire fingerboard is unbelievable.
    The only negative all night was the PA. A full size concert grand shouldn't sound that rinkly-tinkly in the low end. And there was a chronic feedback problem all night. Any time Oscar spoke there was a low end howl in his vocal mike, and at times the same frequency just about obliterated the bass. Not what I'd expect at such a prestigious (and expensive) venue.

    All in all, a magical night I'll remember for a long time.
     
  2. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Thanks for the review, Eric, that's great info.

    Oscar's a giant.

    People, check out Molly Johnson if you haven't already. Great singer.
     
  3. What a GREAT review Eric!
    That information really makes my day, as I'm just ONE chapter out from finishing Oscar's Book
    "A Jazz Odyssey"..... My Life In Jazz. ( A MUST READ)And,I was wondering to myself, if he was still performing. So, thanks Eric, for the info and yes, NHOP is the MASTER! You realise after reading Oscar's book just how high he places Niels up the ladder. On the section of the Bassist's he's used, he talks about Ray and Niels as having the biggest effect out of maybe the 20 bassists that he's used over 50 years.:)