Oscar Peterson (1925) is without any doubt one of the most important pianists that jazz has brought forth. His technical skills, dexterity and power to swing are almost of the same high level as that of his big idol Art Tatum. However Peterson has accomplished to develop a completely personal style over the years, a style that can be characterized as something in between bop, stride and swing. Peterson is sometimes criticised for playing too many notes. If that's the case, it should be stressed that all these notes are the right ones and his timing is perfect. Maybe the Canadian giant shows his skills to full advantage when he performs solo. Then it becomes extra clear that jazz, just like in Tatum's days, is also a matter of entertainment. When Peterson is behind the grand piano all by himself and giving it all he's got, then that's not just an exposé of higher art, but also entertainment pur sang.
Oscar Peterson was born, as fourth descendant in a family of five children. At first he was only interested in the trumpet, but when tuberculoses struck him, he turned to piano. His father and sister tutored him, but they noticed quickly that Oscar had a natural talent that would soon go beyond their capacities. Lessons were taken over by Paul de Marky, a Hungarian, classical pianist with whom Peterson developed a warm respectful friendship over the years. In 1947 the pianist founded his first Canadian Trio and after Norman Granz had heard him play and the Jazz at The Philharmonic ensemble and incorporated him, the career of the piano hero went sky high. Since 1950 DownBeat has declared him best pianist year in year out. The trio he started with guitarist Barney Kessel (who was quickly replaced by Herb Ellis) and master bassist Ray Brown, is one of the artistic highlights in his career. Peterson also wrote many classical works (Canadiana Suite) and probably he has received every award you can think of in his lifetime. During the last years he has been playing frequently with bassist Niels-Hennig Ørsted Pedersen, who very recently passed away. At North Sea Peterson will, for the first time in ten years in The Netherlands, perform with a quartet consisting of Ulf Wakenius (guitar), David Young (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums).