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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 05:42 GMT
Jazz legend Oscar Peterson dies
Oscar Peterson
Peterson received all of Canada's highest honours during his lifetime

Jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson has died of kidney failure at his home in Toronto, at the age of 82.

Peterson was one of jazz's most recorded musicians, and was famous for his fast-playing virtuoso style.

He made more than 200 albums and won eight Grammy awards, including a lifetime achievement honour in 1997.

He released his first single at the age of 19 and performed with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Nat "King" Cole.

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame announced last month that it was to present the star with its Founder's Award in 2008.

Oscar Peterson in 1958
The star shot to fame by winning a CBC talent contest at the age of 14
This was to celebrate "a brilliant jazz pianist and composer" who showed "musical dexterity and energetic performances", it said.

Peterson, who had a working-class upbringing in Montreal, won a talent contest organised by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) when he was 14 years old.

"The world has lost an important jazz player," Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, and Peterson's close friend, told CBC News.

"He's been going downhill in the last few months, slowing up," she added.

His studio and live partners included Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Stan Getz.

Oscar Peterson in 1971
Peterson played with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie
Basie once described Peterson as someone who "plays the best ivory box I've ever heard", while Ellington referred to him as "Maharajah of the keyboard".

Gifted at improvisation, Peterson said in 2005 how live free-form jazz could enable "moments of great beauty to emerge".

He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour, and he was the first living Canadian to be depicted on a stamp.

According to CBC, Peterson was married four times and had six children from his first and third marriages and one daughter, Celine, with his fourth wife, Kelly.


Your thoughts -

About forty years ago I was given as a leaving present by colleagues a collection of Oscar Peterson on LP which included a Hymn to Freedom. The first time I heard this number I made a wish that this track would be played at my cremation as my smoke wafted up the chimney. That's still the plan. If there's a heaven Oscar will be there and the music will live on.
Peter Relf, Ockley, United Kingdom

He was number ONE of all jazzmusicians. I met him 6 times in concerts in Norway. Last time, two years ago, in Oslo Consethall. I will miss him. He is for me a big legend. I will listen to his records and remember my meetings with deep respect.
Bjarne E. Lihaug, Dalsøyra

Hours of pleasure that man's music has given me. His timing, unique phrasing and arrangements of some of the old standards have gone from my 33 1/3 albums onto the jazz playlist of my iPod.
Kate Paine, Honoloulu USA

Just to say the Poker of Aces, Louis Amstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, no one will replace those diamonds perfectly polished, now the Jazz music remain orphan, I was several years looking for his "C Jam Blues" record in spite of Duke Ellington' stamp, Oscar Peterson did his special touch but in an unrepeatable way that no one can do. It is a sad day to me.
Juan A. Iglesia, Sevilla, Spain

My first time seeing Oscar Peterson was solo piano for a CBC radio concert, at the Manitoba Centenial Concert Hall. My father and two brothers were with me. We are all pianists, my father classically trained from Germany. We were in awe with the superb performance of Oscar and compared him to the likes of Franz Lizst. At the time I had been studying jazz guitar with Lenny Breau but Oscar's influence brought me back to the piano. I later tuned the pianos at that very concert hall but never had the opportunity to tune for Oscar. I play and improvise on his compositions to this day. His music has influenced me the most.
Ron Linnebach, Surrey B.C. Canada



SEE ALSO
Obituary: Oscar Peterson
24 Dec 07 |  Entertainment

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