What a loss. What a life. What an inspiration
How appropriate that Oscar Peterson left this world on the eve of Christmas. The 82 year-old piano legend was a gift to the world. Attempting to reflect on what he gave us you are struck by the totality of happiness, awe and inspiration he provided to millions with his unique and groundbreaking sound.
Having seen him, finally, at Yoshi’s in Oakland last year, I feel very lucky. For me, attending that performance was one of those "before you die" experiences.
His is one of those lives that, upon considering its content, provokes one to consider just how much one can make of their life. Clearly the answer is a more than is often imaginable. He reminds us that while we ought to work to experience as much as possible in our short time, we ought also to spend this life trying to inspire others. That is to say, the man led a model life.
Of all the Oscar Peterson recordings I am most taken by "My Favorite Instrument". The solo recording from 1968 is arresting. From "Perdido", "A Train" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" to "Little Girl Blue and Someone to Watch Over Me", Peterson is entirely conjoined with his instrument as he moves through a collection of standards that are taken over by his genius and reinterpreted.
Herbie Hancock said of Peterson, "I consider him the major influence that formed my roots in jazz
piano playing. He mastered the balance between technique, hard blues
grooving, and tenderness. … No one will ever be able to take his
What a loss. What a life. What an inspiration.