June 26, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
I write this sitting in the press room of the Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal, looking out at a sea of banners announcing JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ and more wonderful JAZZ. Facing me is the image of a special man we lost last year, Oscar Peterson, displayed proudly on the building that houses two of the main stages of this great festival. Tonight, I will walk past Oscar to hear Dee Dee Bridgewater and then two of the greatest living pianists of our day- Hank Jones and Oliver Jones, performing together, with Oscar Peterson looking over all of us.
Its too early- even for this festival- for the music to start from all of the outdoor stages surrounding the Place des Arts, but the soundchecks go on, the crews deliver cases of instruments and cables and speakers, and the excitement builds. The WBGO team will be blogging from "The Montreal Jazz Festival" in the coming days, sharing some of the highlights not only of the festival, but the wonderful city that welcomes us all every year to share in this extraordinary event.
If you are here, let us know. Share your thoughts and experiences. Where are you eating? What are you seeing? Who have you discovered? With so many events going on, we can't possibly bring all of them to those of your reading this. But you can share your experiences. I promise to put up some photos as I go.
I can't sit still anymore- I've got a whole city to explore... First stop: got to buy my tee shirt!
© 2008 WBGO
January 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Just after the promenade of NEA Jazz Masters, a spot of good news for US foreign relations. NEA Chairman Dana Gioia and Canada Council for the Arts chair Karen Kain presented an award posthumously to Oscar Peterson. Hear Chairman Gioia read the proclamation.
Kelly, Oscar's wife, and Celine, his daughter, accepted the award.
During the ceremony, Oscar's childhood neighbor, Oliver Jones, sat at the piano and played tribute to his dear friend. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, directed by NEA Jazz Master David Baker, joined Oliver for the musical salute:
Dave Young, Oscar's longtime bassist (1974-2006), joined Oliver for a trio take on Oscar's "Hymn to Freedom":
This was just the beginning of a phenomenal evening for jazz.
As I post this, there's an amazing show happening at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The concert's called "Simply the Best." Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, and everyone in Canada are coming out for Oscar. The concert is free to the public. Nearly 2,000 seats were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to those who lined up at the box office. Fans began showing up at 5:30 a.m. We're hoping to secure rights to air the show on WBGO at a later date... - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
December 28, 2007. Posted by Andrew Meyer.
Oscar Peterson's passing this week got me to thinking about one of my first exposures to jazz...
I wasn't always a news guy.
As some of you might know, in a previous life, I did tech work in theater, both Off-Broadway and summer stock in Vermont. One summer in the early 90's, I was involved with a production of a new Doug Carter Beene play (which eventually moved to New York) called The Country Club. I wouldn't necessarily call it the most memorable of Beene's plays (who has had great success on the New York stage), but one of the things I remember the best from that production is the music selected for scene changes: Oscar Peterson Plays The Cole Porter Songbook.
I didn't know nearly as much then about jazz as I do now (you can't work at a place like 'BGO and not at least soak it in through osmosis), but I did recognize that this was a special album and a tremendous talent. I ended picking up a copy of this for my own cd collection. It was one of my first brushes with jazz, a good place to start. Thank you, Oscar.
© 2007 WBGO