R.I.P., Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson died Sunday. Peterson was really the reason I became a jazz pianist, and was the first jazz pianist I probably was ever exposed to, his recording of "Night Train" the first jazz album I ever owned, the first jazz pianist I ever heard live (back in Ottawa, in an event that also featured Claude Bolling and Michel Legrand in a memorable three piano, round-robin "duel" and for which I sat in the front row of the National Arts Centre opera house), and his "Hymn to Freedom" one of the first jazz pieces I ever played. His impeccable sense of swing and the blues tinge he brought to everything he did, combined with his flawless and elegant piano technique are probably among the key qualities that will forever come to mind when I think of his impact on me personally (as well as, I'm sure, many others) as pianist and musician. But he was also Canada's musical ambassador to the world, and the fact that such a figure was also African-Canadian was even more inspiring to me as a someone with African/Chinese background myself. I am thankful that I finally had the opportunity to briefly shake his hand a few years ago at a National Jazz Awards event in Toronto, but in the end how can you ever really thank such a great Canadian and artist such as this for everything he achieved and represented to us all? R.I.P., Oscar Peterson.