The world will miss Oscar Peterson


By: Janice Dayle

oscar1.jpgAt 18 years old, Oscar Peterson was once described as "The coloured boy with amazing fingers," he went on to achieving great honour as one of Canada's prodigious jazz pianists.

On December 23, 2007, at the age of 82, Oscar Peterson passed away at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

His technique was dazzling and the Montreal native, now considered one of Canada's national treasures rose from humble beginnings in the inner city neighbourhood of Little Burgundy. Born to Caribbean parents, Peterson was introduced to musical instruments by his piano playing dad who worked as a Canadian Pacific Railway porter. The recipient of numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees, Peterson honed his skill at an early age with influences from many including his sister, Daisy Peterson Sweeny, who also taught Oliver Jones and Joe Sealy.

Throughout his illustrious career, Peterson worked closely with many of Jazz music's greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and others and became the first Canadian to be awarded the prestigious UNESCO International Music Prize.

The concert hall of Concordia University was named after him many years ago and Peterson will always be fondly and proudly remembered.

Today, January 12, 2008 a memorial concert will be held in his honour in Toronto, Ontario. Entitled, "Simply The Best," it will be a free show at Roy Thompson Hall where performances, memories and highlights of his amazing career will be showcased.

Among those remembering Peterson will be the Governor General of Canada the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, former Ontario Premier, Bob Rae and Jamaica's Jazz Legend, Monty Alexander.