Oscar Peterson
[ Issue 4 ]

Oscar Peterson - Emily Bronto is absolutely awestruck by him

Bikwil celebrates Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson

Fizzgig here reminds us of the legendary piano technique of jazzman Oscar Peterson.

Peterson's dexterity is all the more remarkable, perhaps, in view of his awkward bulk, yet clearly he came to terms with it early in life.

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From the Back Verandah — Fizzgig


Oscar Peterson’s piano technique is legendary. Have you ever heard the devastating Indiana by Peterson, Ray Brown and Herb Ellis at 360 beats per minute?

To me, Peterson’s phenomenal dexterity seems all the more remarkable given his immense size. I remember seeing him larger-than-live at the Sydney Opera House in a duo with guitarist Joe Pass. When he first walked on I was struck by how his arms hung virtually motionless at the sides of his huge frame. Yet although he was 52 then (March 1978), he swung with the power of an 20-year-old.

Still, I can wonder about his awkward bulk all I like, but clearly O. P. came to terms with it early in life, as the following interview, which I found in Gene Lees’ Oscar Peterson, the Will to Swing (ISBN 0 333 46547 4), reveals.

It’s 11 July 1944, and on the CBC’s Merchant Navy Show the star is an 18-year-old Oscar, already 1.9 m and 101.7 kg.

“Oscar, that was terrific! Tell me, boy, how many hands you got?”

“Just two, Mr. Davis, just two. But I like to make ’em work hard.”

“You’re not kidding. Tell me, Oscar, you’re still going to school, aren’t you?”

“That’s right. My folks would tan my hide if I missed a day.”

“Your dad would have his hands full there!”

“That’s what you say. My pop ain’t no pygmy either.”

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