CULTURE: One of the true giants drops in.
When it comes to venues, Symphony Hall is the crown jewels' when it comes to jazz pianists there is no one quite as legendary as Oscar Peterson.
So, Symphony Hall and Oscar Peterson make the perfect match, and they come together on Monday evening.
Peterson, 80-years-old and remarkably able despite some health problems a few years back, was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, the son of immigrants from the British West Indies and the Virgin Islands.
He formed his first trio in 1947, made a guest appearance two years later at New York's Carnegie Hall with his all-star concert troupe known as "Jazz at the Philharmonic", and by 1950 he began recording for Norman Granz's Mercury label and formed his first US duo with bassist Ray Brown.
During the same year he was awarded the Downbeat award, having being voted best jazz pianist of the year' an award that he garnered for another 12 years.
Over the years, Peterson has recorded with many of the jazz greats and his recordings showcase his talents alongside Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, but it's in his own small groups - trio with bass and drums, or quartet with the addition of guitar, that he has really made his mark.
I can still remember in my head practically all of the lengthy and oh-so-logical improvisational progression he wound out of Tenderly, in a version my father played over and over in our house throughout the 1960s.
He and his band settle into a very special kind of jazz swing, as deep and generous in its soulful-ness as it is propulsive in its drive forwards.
For Monday evening's concert Peterson is joined by Ulf Wakenius (guitar), David Young (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums).
This is one of only three opportunities in England to see Peterson - the others are the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Big Top Arena in Liverpool, so leap at the opportunity and if you don't already have tickets, beg the Symphony Hall box office to sell you some.
Oscar Peterson plays Symphony Hall on Monday at 7.30pm, with tickets (if there are any left) available from the box office on 0121 780 3333 or 0121 357 0000, or book online at necgroup.co.uk/
I had a "bit of a go" at Symphony Hall in this column a year or so back - said it wasn't really punching its weight as a venue for the big names in jazz (Wynton aside, of course).
Well, Oscar Peterson is just the kind of jazz giant who should be playing this venue, so hurrah for Symphony Hall and its management.
Just don't stop now - Midland jazz fans still have lists of players and singers they'd like to see here, and a venue of Symphony Hall's size and stature is probably the only one that could accommodate them (or make sense financially).
I'm sure you all have your own lists - here's mine: Keith Jarrett, Sonny Rollins, the Pat Metheny Group, the Maria Schneider Orchestra Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin and Joe Zawinul.
Also happening this week: Tomorrow: Levi French's Scream-in' Tree at the Jazz Club, The Rainbow, Deritend, music from 9.30pm, pounds 2 entrance - more on 0121 772 8174.
Friday: Rush Hour Blues welcomes Soweto Kinch and The Live Box - from 5.30pm and it's free. Sunday: The Esther Miller trio will be playing at The Stage, Paradise Place, at 1.00pm. Gerry Spencer is on piano and Bryan Corbett on trumpet. More on 0121 212 2524.
Also on Sunday: Jazz Barbecue at the Azzari Too restaurant in Three Shires Oak Road, Bearwood. Venezuelan keyboard player Edgar Macias, with Ray Butcher on trumpet, Miles Levin on drums and Derek Spires on vocals. Starts at 1pm and goes on all afternoon. Book now on 0121 429 6621.
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Jun 28, 2006|
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