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Does Oscar Peterson get a bad rap?


Hardbopjazz
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Never understood all the hatred against the good man or his music. Sure, everybody can hear this guy is no big innovator nor is he the most creative pianist. But the guy can really play and most of all: you can hear joy in his playing. Sad to see fellow musicians making such narrow minded remarks like fake-jazz.... like that even exists. I can understand if something is not your style or cup of tea but to make such degrading comments... Did not expect those kind of words from somebody from the free/avant- scene. 

Anyway, mindblowing or world changing definitely no. But enjoyable to myself: yes it is. I like his bands with Brown/Thigpen and Sam Jones/Louis Hayes. So that’s mostly his ‘60’s stuff. Try not tapping your foot on the Sound of the Trio record. Just a lovely no nonsense jazz session. I sometimes need that kind of jazz :) and all apart from that: like Ken Dryden mentioned, he was a warm and gentle person. A guy who dedicated his life to the music.

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For what it's worth, Peterson even said he was "scared" of Tatum.

There is a lot of Peterson I enjoy on Pablo. The label really specialized in throwback jazz, basically in the swing mode.  Of course, the artists were mainly the original guys, those who had been doing it for decades--Basie, Zoot Sims, Dizzy, Ray Brown, Roy Eldridge, and of course Oscar.  There was no innovation on Pablo.  But sometimes you just want joyful and swinging jazz.  

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

It doesn't take any special gift/capacity/intellect to either like or dislike him. ...  you name it, some people just do not like that type of thing, period.

True, but remember how many (self-professed) "jazz PhDs" there are out there who, in the case of other "name" jazz artists, claim that "No, you CANNOT dislike him (and you are not ENTITLED to dislike him). If you dislike him you haven't understood a thing about jazz, And the shit storm will be on you!". Which of course is total B.S. in about 90% of those cases (I'd say there are far less "mandatory" artists than some might argue - and, BTW, the artists in question usually are dead too ^_^) - at worst one hasn't appreciated a specific style of jazz enough to like that particular artist. But there are plenty of other styles and segments within jazz that can be enjoyed enormously nonetheless.

(The same thing can be said about most other styles of music too, BTW)

Edited by Big Beat Steve
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It depends what era Peterson you're talking about. The trio with Ellis and Brown (and no drummer) was different than the trio in the 60s with Brown and Durham or Thigpen . Then, something went kerflooey when he and Joe Pass went to Pablo. I can't listen to that stuff. 

I remember as a kid, a child prodigy pianist friend of mine and I went shopping at the Farmer's Market, and there were a whole bunch of the Eddie Costa Trio LPs  on Jubilee there selling for only a dollar, and we each bought one. My friend copied Costa's solos on the record, because they sounded like Peterson, slowed down. Yet, when I told him how much I loved Costa's playing on the record, he got all indignant, and said something like, "What? That little, puny pianist? He's nothing compared to Peterson!"  I'd rather listen to Costa, any day...

My friend was a child prodigy classical pianist with perfect pitch, who was playing Bach at the age of four, and it seems like Some classical pianists were floored by his technical ability. Others, like Bill Evans, were nauseated by Peterson. When Evans was on the same bill at a jazz festival as Peterson, he was overheard backstage saying something like,"Do I have to be subjected to listening to this?"

I liked some of the stuff up to the Pablo stuff, but when he and Pass recorded for Pablo, it was like that show-offy JATP flag waving stuff; I can't take any of that.

 

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1 hour ago, Big Beat Steve said:

True, but remember how many (self-professed) "jazz PhDs" there are out there who, in the case of other "name" jazz artists, claim that "No, you CANNOT dislike him (and you are not ENTITLED to dislike him). If you dislike him you haven't understood a thing about jazz, And the shit storm will be on you!".

Yeah, well, it works the other way too, "regular people" will say that if you don't like Artist X (and state your reason), it's because you're a ______ and/or a ______, and c'mon peoples, some shit some people just don't like and they have their reasons, just as people who do like it have theirs.

From a business perspective, it's all too often actual warfare, but from a civilian perspective, look for the commonalities, I say. I can bond with all sorts of people over those, but if they want to war over differences, I can do that too. But the older I get (and the more so much of this type of music recedes as an active interest), the less fun it is to do so.

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20 minutes ago, Lyin' Wolf said:

I have the Mosaic Peterson and enjoy it a lot.  I haven't ventured beyond that though - mostly because I keep hearing he plays too many notes and is not interesting.  I figure maybe I found the sweet spot with the Mosaic and don't want to ruin it for myself.

Don't believe what anybody else tells you, pro or con. Find it out for yourself. There's enough on You Tube for you do that.

Here's an enchanting (sic) OP cut. A stroke is nothing I'd wish on anybody, but from an objective musical standpoint, slowing that motherfucker down certainly did not harm his playing any, if this is any indication.

 

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I don't think anything has been proven other than the subjectivity of listeners and the fact that parallels don't stand up.  For example, many find Peterson's playing is overwrought.  But the parallel might be drawn that many jazz greats are just as overwrought: Bird, Coltrane, Blakey, and many more.  But they bring on the virtuosity for other reasons and to other effects.

I didn't know that Evans was quite disgusted by Peterson.  Yet there are some who would argue that Evans worked within too narrow an emotional range; I might very well say that myself.

 

 

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Definitely not my favorite pianist and I don’t love everything he did (nor am I interested in exploring his catalogue in depth), but he was on a lot of classic records and provided a lot of value added to my ears.  Would rather listen to 5 min of OP than 5 min of Bill Evans.

I think the comparison of OP to AT is off, maybe Freddie Hubbard is a better analogue?

I think Ethan Iverson’s post on him is pretty useful in terms of explaining why OP has raised such hackles over the years:

https://ethaniverson.com/rhythm-and-blues/oscar-peterson-and-miles-davis/

 

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9 hours ago, Milestones said:

 For example, many find Peterson's playing is overwrought.  But the parallel might be drawn that many jazz greats are just as overwrought: Bird, Coltrane, Blakey, and many more.  But they bring on the virtuosity for other reasons and to other effects.

Uh...overwrought is the result, not the tools, and not the process.

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17 hours ago, sgcim said:

 

My friend was a child prodigy classical pianist with perfect pitch, who was playing Bach at the age of four, and it seems like Some classical pianists were floored by his technical ability. Others, like Bill Evans, were nauseated by Peterson. When Evans was on the same bill at a jazz festival as Peterson, he was overheard backstage saying something like,"Do I have to be subjected to listening to this?"

 

Hmm...not saying you're wrong, but I thought Evans liked Peterson. Certainly Peterson liked Evans and even said that Evans had an influence on his later playing. Oscar often played "Waltz for Debbie."'

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I really must post this link to Oscar with Milt Jackson, Nils-Henning Ørsted-Pedersen and Martin Drew.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x15pcy

It is a lovely performance all round.

Martin Drew is perhaps not known to you. He is a fine drummer. I saw him at Ronnie Scott's in London, backing Zoot Sims, and recommended him to Oscar when I met him.

Enjoy.

Edited by Shrdlu
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4 hours ago, John Tapscott said:

Hmm...not saying you're wrong, but I thought Evans liked Peterson. Certainly Peterson liked Evans and even said that Evans had an influence on his later playing. Oscar often played "Waltz for Debbie."'

There's no doubt that Evans admired earlier Peterson (Pre-Pablo), but the incident I described took place when Peterson seemed to go off the rails. Perhaps Evans was responding to this deterioration in his playing. 

To completely dismiss Oscar is,IMHO, a mistake. Though I like some of the tunes he did with the Ellis trio on a case by case basis, in the 60s, when he started playing with Thigpen or Durham, he became a force of nature. His bit as a sideman on "The Eternal Triangle" was also phenomenal. 

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On 12/10/2019 at 9:16 AM, Justin V said:

I put that through Google Translate and it came back as, 'Oscar Peterson is popular.  I am not.  Please pay attention to me.'  Odd.

here we go again. This is the kind of ass-holery that has often driven me away from this place. It is insulting; I have been performing for 30 fucking years, have written 5 books on American music, have helped more musicians than you probably even know, almost died this year, have taught and lectured at a few universities, have recorded maybe 20 albums and have worked with people you can only dream about, junior.

Disagree with me all you want, but show a little respect for my ability to objectively judge music and musicians and to separate my opinions from my self interest. Criticize my music or my writing all you want but do not tell me you can read my mind or motivation.

Jesus effin christ.

 

Edited by AllenLowe
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