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Obituary: Wray Downes - The Grand Man of the Piano

Wray Downes was a gifted pianist, an Oscar Peterson protégé blessed with perfect pitch and impeccable timing and a be-bop man who possessed one of the most expressive right hands in all of jazz. Mr. Peterson – and many others in the field – recognized Mr. Downes as a formidable talent.In 1980, Mr. Peterson told author and former Globe and Mail jazz critic Mark Miller of his deep respect, in competitive terms, for his shy, unassuming former student. “Wray’s the kind of guy – you look up and all of a sudden, you’re bleeding. If you go up onstage in a group, and he’s in the other group, quietly he’ll take his lumps out on you.”When Mr. Downes died on March 19, at 89 from lung cancer, ...
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Liner Notes: Various artists - All Canadian Jazz

Canadian jazz has come a long way from the day that Oscar Peterson made his auspicious debut at New York's Carnegie Hall. The young Montreal pianist, sharing a bill with Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, "stopped the concert dead cold in its tracks," according to down beat magazine, displaying "a flashy right hand, a load of bop and a good sense of harmonic development." Peterson soared to fame virtually overnight, followed a short time later by Montreal trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. For the longest while, they were the only jazz stars from Canada. And, with a distinct lack of domestic gigs, they worked almost exclusively in the United States.Joining Peterson and...
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Music Feature: Oscar Peterson's Jazz School

Oscar Peterson is remembered as a gifted pianist who could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie and beyond. Peterson led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who dubbed him “the man with four hands,” won eight Grammy Awards and Canada’s prestigious Glenn Gould Prize.Called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, he released over 200 recordings before his death in 2007, including his 1956 Stratford Festival recording, 1958’s On the Town, recorded at Toronto’s Town Tavern, and 1962’s Night Train, which featured a number of Ellington pieces as...
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Obituary: Jazz giant Oscar Peterson

Few pianists swung as hard or played as fast and with as many grace notes as Canada’s Oscar Peterson. The classically trained musician could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie, bebop and beyond. He led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who called him “the man with four hands,” recorded more than 200 albums and wrote such memorable works as “Hymn to Freedom” and the “Canadiana Suite.” “A virtuoso without peer,” concluded his biographer, Gene Lees, in The Will to Swing. When Peterson died this week, music lovers around the world mourned the loss of a lyrical stylist and one of...
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Feature Article: Oscar Peterson - A living, swinging legend

Oscar Peterson peers up through the glass ceiling of his sunroom and apologizes for the faint noise coming from a distant jet passing overhead. “We’re right in their flight path,” explains Peterson, whose split-level house in Mississauga, Ont., sits due west of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Happily, the spacious home he shares with his fourth wife, Kelly, and their seven-year-old daughter, Celine, is also smack in the middle of the flight path of many migrating birds. Peterson loves birds. His sunroom is filled with artists’ renderings of them—some cast in bronze, others shaped in shards of brightly coloured glass. “My favourite is the loon,” says Peterson. “I've always loved its ...
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