Oscar Peterson RIP

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died on Christmas Eve. His album Night Train was the first jazz album I was ever able to play along to, due in large part to the amazing lines and tone of his long-time bassist Ray Brown, but also the relative simplicity of the underlying harmony. The magic though was in what they were doing over the top… It’s a principle I’ve held onto with most of my jazz playing ever since – keep the changes simple and give the players room to stretch. And from Ray’s playing on that record, I got a sense of how a line can be supportive, swinging and clear in its statement of the harmony.

It was one of the first jazz albums I understood at all – I liked a lot of jazz that I’d heard before it, but didn’t really know what was going on. It got me on a more emotional, visceral level. With Night Train, I could follow the changes through the solos and pick out a lot of what Oscar was doing in relation to the chords in his solos. It was beautiful stuff, and to this day it’s the album I go to first when recommending a first jazz album to get to my students.

So in memory of Oscar, here he is with not one by TWO world class legendary bassists – Ray Brown and NHOP –

And here’s the obit. from the Guardian.

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