Oscar Peterson Photography

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson was a highly accomplished performer and is considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. During an illustrious career spanning nearly sixty years, he released over 200 recordings and won eight Grammys—including a 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award—firmly establishing him as Canada’s most celebrated jazz musician.

This Québec native studied classical piano as early as age five, developed into a technically brilliant pianist by 14, and soon dropped out of high school to perform professionally. Despite being classically trained, he quickly mastered the popular music of the time and became known as the “Brown Bomber of Boogie-Woogie.”

Peterson was renowned as an unaccompanied soloist, but he also performed in every combination from small ensembles to big bands. His most regarded LP is the live Oscar Peterson at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, recorded with Ray Brown (double bass) and Herb Ellis (guitar) in 1956. Despite a 1993 stroke, the “Maharaja of the keyboard” (a moniker coined by Duke Ellington) kept performing until just before his death in 2007.

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