WRTI's Essential Jazz Artist No. 12: Oscar Peterson

Jan 26, 2017

Bob Perkins calls him “The Wonderful Wizard of OZcar," Ellington called him “The Maharaja of the Keyboard,” and his friends just said “O.P." But let's just call Oscar Peterson one of the greatest jazz pianists ever. The man could swing!

He brought the jazz trio to new heights with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis, each member supplying virtuosic independence. He won eight GRAMMYs.

BP's essential Oscar Peterson albums:

  • Oscar with vibraphonist Milt Jackson: Two of the Few
  • Oscar with jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli: Skol

Please support WRTI during our Essential Winter Drive. Help us reach our $325,000 goal and keep your essential music playing. Pledge here or call 1-866-809-9784.

Some facts about Oscar Peterson:

  • Born and raised in Canada, he was trained on the piano by a student of Franz Liszt
  • Lauded by all, he was humble. Art Tatum, he said, “Scared me to death.”
  • He practiced scales, études, and Bach fugues, and liked to quote Rachmaninoff’s music in his improvisations
  • He loved the playing of Nat King Cole
  • Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien offered him the Lieutenant-Governorship of Ontario in 1993, but Peterson had just suffered a stroke and turned it down.

Ben Yagoda tells Susan Lewis that he considers Peterson to be part of the re-birth of the Great American Songbook, here.