Oscar Peterson

Montreal born Oscar Peterson is Canada's best-known jazz pianist. I have been listening to Oscar Peterson all of my life. My parents were fans of Oscar and today I continue to listen to his music and play some of his compositions.

In the following CBC video, Oscar talks about the impact of Ray Charles on music:

For biographical information, see Oscar Peterson's autobiography A Jazz Odyssey -- My Life in Jazz or try one of these sites:

The Oscar Peterson information is organized into these categories:


Oscar Peterson has made hundreds of recordings. See the All-Music Guide entry on Oscar for a lot of specific recording information. Unfortunately, finding a specific Oscar Peterson recording can be difficult. For example, the "In Tune" recording that I describe below can be found on iTunes, but not on Amazon.

I have so many Oscar Peterson recordings that I'm not certain where to start. A few that come to mind are:

Canadiana Suite
A tribute to Canada written in the early sixties. Later recordings of some of these pieces by Oscar are, in my opinion, often better but it's interesting to hear the entire suite together.

Night Train
A classic recording from 1963 with Oscar on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums. This trio is one of my all-time favorites.

In Tune
This album features the Oscar Peterson Trio combined with the great vocal harmonies of the Singers Unlimited.

Last Call At the Blue Note
In 1990, Oscar, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis reunited at the Blue Note in New York. This recording includes two compositions from the Canadiana Suite, Wheatland and March Past.


Continuum released Oscar Peterson's autobiography A Jazz Odyssey -- My Life in Jazz in 2002. About half the book is devoted to Oscar Peterson's journey through life. The reminder of the book has a wide variety of Mr. Peterson's comments on other people in jazz, the people that he worked with, albumns, pianos, and stories. Well worth the read.

In 1988, Gene Lees wrote Oscar Peterson The Will To Swing. This book was published by Lester and Orpen Dennys and covers all of Oscar's life. From the jacket cover,

"In this wide-ranging biography, critic and lyricist Gene Lees examines the life and motivation of one of the world's greatest jazz pianists -- a brooding genius who has sought constantly to explore all the possibilities of his chosen instrument and is still engaged in that process of discovery today."
There is also a thin book written by Richard Palmer called Oscar Peterson which was published in England by Spellmount Ltd. in 1984.

Music Books

Two music books with Oscar Peterson titles and arrangements are:

The Oscar Peterson Trio
Canadiana Suite
Copyright 1964 by Tomi Music Company

Oscar Peterson Jazz Piano Solos
Various copyrights

Both books are published by Charles Hansen Educational Music & Books, Miami, Florida. Unfortunately, these books are out of print and there are no current plans to reprint them. If you are looking for these books, you will have to find second-hand copies. Some Oscar Peterson songs are published in Fake books.


Over the years, many films of Oscar Peterson have been made. You can order the video In the Key of Oscar from the National Film Board of Canada. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC have both made videos of Oscar, although I have found it difficult to purchase any of these videos.

The most common way to see Oscar Peterson is via YouTube. Just search for "Oscar Peterson" and you will find numerous videos of Oscar Peterson performances. One of my favorite OP componsitions is "Hymn To Freedom" which is featured in the 1974 video below with the Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Ed Thigpen:

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