Jazz Great Oscar Peterson Dies at 82

News & Notes pays tribute to the life and musical contributions of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. The eight-time Grammy winner played with all the greats, including Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Dizzy Gillespie.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

Master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has died. Peterson's career spanned seven decades. Over that time, the Canada native won international fame for his supreme technique, clarity of sound, speedy fingers and driving swing.

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CHIDEYA: Peterson could front a band like no other. He also played behind some of the greatest names in jazz, including Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Oscar Peterson was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1925. A stern father kept him focused on classical piano. Jazz wasn't his national heritage but his record player put him in tune with the sound of the States and the artist who create it.

Mr. OSCAR PETERSON (Musician): I listened to them. Sometimes I played with at home with the records. So then when I had to play with them in person, I sort of have a bit of a jump on their musical personality, even though I ain't.

CHIDEYA: In 1993, a stroke slowed Peterson down, but not before he made countless recordings. Peterson died earlier this week at his home in Toronto. He was 82 years old. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy put it this week, one of the bright lights of jazz has gone out. To hear a concert Oscar Peterson gave in 1982 and other special features from our archives, go to our new music Web site at npr.org/music.

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CHIDEYA: That's our show for today. Thank you for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, visit our Web site, nprnewsandnotes.org. To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsnadviews.org.

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Tomorrow, how wounded troops cope on the battlefield and at home.

I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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