If You Only Knew (Live) · Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson is one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol Art Tatum, Peterson’s speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo have long been amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, O.P. is at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style does not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson’s distinctive playing formed during the mid- to late ’40s, and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson has been criticized through the years because he uses so many notes, has not evolved much since the 1950s, and has recorded a remarkable number of albums. Perhaps it is because critics ran out of favorable adjectives to use early in his career; certainly it can be said that Peterson plays 100 notes when other pianists might use ten, but all 100 usually fit, and there is nothing wrong with showing off technique when it serves the music. As with Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk, to name two, Peterson spent his career growing within his style rather than making any major changes once his approach was set, certainly an acceptable way to handle one’s career. Because he was Norman Granz’s favorite pianist (along with Tatum), and the producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson has made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and a few are routine, but the great majority are quite excellent, and there are dozens of classics. Artist bio from TiVo.

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