vendredi, décembre 28, 2007

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson no more.

Canada's legendary jazz pianist, a technical virtuoso who performed with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie and inspired generations of jazz musicians, dies aged 82.

John Fordham
Tuesday December 25, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson: 'could transform any melody into streams of spontaneous alternatives'. Photograph: AP
After the phenomenal jazz-piano virtuoso Art Tatum died in 1956, Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson - who had already been waiting in the wings for a decade - eased his formidable frame on to the throne. Like Tatum, Peterson had a Liszt-like technique (classical music's star pianists came to marvel at both of them), and could transform any melody into streams of spontaneous alternatives, sustain any tempo, use his left hand as freely as his right, and keep a faultless built-in rhythm section at work in his head. These skills made Peterson, who has died of kidney failure at the age of 82, one of the best-loved stars in the jazz mainstream. The sympathetic but uncharitable among jazz purists might have held that Peterson was the unfortunate victim of his spectacular technique. All his performances would feature the same mix of flooding arpeggios, cascading introductions and codas, ragtime and barrelhouse pastiches, and solos at impossible tempos - and even after a stroke in 1993, the indomitable keyboard giant fought on to rebuild much of his sweeping technical authority. The standard Peterson trio offering would be the uptempo tune (either a standard or an original that sounded like a standard), starting either solo or with minimal accompaniment. It would grow in volume from both piano and drums in the second chorus, and by the third become an unbroken cascade of runs the length of the keyboard, resolving in thumping chords, thumbs-down-the-keys ripples and churning repeated phrases.

With cavalier glee, Peterson would apply this treatment to tunes ideally suited to it - like Anything Goes, or Sweet Georgia Brown - and to those that weren't, since he would often subject ballads to same burnups, bizarrely relapsing them into caresses at the end. Yet there was a true artist in Peterson too. Deliciously liquid arpeggios and arching, yearning phrases would sometimes emerge once he was sure he had given his audiences what they initially expected, and such contrastingly patient and spacious music might then allow the eloquence of his frequently superb accompanists to flower, notably the work of the double-bass giant Ray Brown.

Peterson had received classical piano lessons from the age of six in his native Montreal; the impetus came from his father, a railway porter and self-taught pianist. At 14, Oscar won a local radio talent contest, and worked in his late teens on a weekly Montreal radio show - and he was also a regular member of Canada's Johnny Holmes Orchestra, playing in an elegant swing keyboard style drawn from Teddy Wilson, Tatum and Nat "King" Cole. Though he had studied trumpet too, childhood illness led him to abandon it for the piano, and he practised constantly, an irrepressible enthusiasm mingling with natural gifts to build a fully two-handed technique (some 40s jazz pianists made relatively perfunctory use of the left hand) that rivalled that of classical recitalists. Though Cole was perhaps the artist Peterson felt most in sympathy with stylistically, the speed, orchestral richness and lyrical sweep of his music made the virtuoso Tatum the only fitting comparison once the Canadian's mature style formed.

Peterson resisted offers to come to America at first, but made his US debut at Carnegie Hall with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic in September 1949. Granz saw in Peterson just his kind of charismatic, communicative performer who reaches out from the subculture of jazz to a much wider audience, and he managed the pianist's career through the 1950s, recorded him, and regularly toured him with Jazz At The Philharmonic. Initially the pianist adopted the Cole trio's methods, frequently playing simply with guitar and double bass and allowing his own unerring rhythmic sense and driving swing to take the place of drums. Through the 1950s, Peterson's bassist was usually Brown, with Herb Ellis on guitar - but from 1958, Ellis was replaced by the subtle drummer Ed Thigpen, one of the few percussionists who could complement the storming Peterson without appearing to compete with him for the maximum number of sounds squeezable into a bar. The group recorded extensively, and Peterson's reworkings of classic standards were so exuberant and upbeat that his recordings found their way into the collections of jazz fans and fascinated non-buffs alike.

In 1960, Peterson founded the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto - assisted by Brown, Thigpen and composer/clarinettist Phil Nimmons - and he remained there for the next three years, devoting much of his time to running the institution. But he continued to perform and record, and developed another string to his considerable bow by singing on a Cole dedication, With Respect to Nat, in 1965.

In the 1970s, though jazz was in retreat against the swelling popular and commercial pressure of rock'n'roll, Peterson continued to prove that his talents were robust enough to be less affected by the changing climate than most. He took to performing unaccompanied, and delivered astonishingly self-sufficient performances in which he frequently seemed to resemble two or three pianists playing simultaneously. By this time one of the most secure of mainstream international jazz stars, Peterson was now invited to perform in all kinds of contexts, including work with symphony orchestras, and guest appearances on many all-star jazz get-togethers with artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry, and guitarist Joe Pass. In later years Peterson frequently worked in duet with bassist Niels-Henning 0rsted Pedersen, a remarkable virtuoso of complementary gifts to the pianist's. Pared-down accompaniment always suited Peterson best, since his devastating technique frequently meant that the more musicians there were in a Peterson group, the more they would all try to keep up, like a party full of non-stop talkers.

Peterson had a prolific output as a recording artist, in some years releasing as many as half a dozen albums. Affinity (1963) was one of his biggest sellers, but his catalogue includes interpretations of the songbooks of Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, a highly successful single on Jimmy Forrest's compulsive Night Train (perfectly suited to Peterson's churningly machine-like style) and 1964's Canadiana Suite, an extended original nominated as one of the best jazz compositions of 1965 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Peterson furnished the soundtrack to the movie Play It Again Sam, hosted a TV chat show a 1974 tour of Russia, and influenced musicians as different as Steve Winwood, Dudley Moore and Joe Zawinul. A dedicated spreader of the word, Peterson also published educational works for student jazz pianists.

Though Peterson has sometimes been criticised as a musician in thrall to his own runaway technique, he remained a great virtuoso of piano jazz, and an equally effective populariser of the music among those who might otherwise not have encountered it. He was the kind of jazz musician who invited a sometimes-daunted general public in, and he always performed as if making the music was the most fun it was possible for a human being to have. When he performed to a packed Royal Albert Hall two years ago, Peterson delivered a startlingly ambitious programme for a man who looked as if the journey from the dressing-room to the piano stool had been a considerable effort of the will. That show could have been a wistful tribute to what once was - but with musicality, courage, skill and energy, Peterson made it a performance that stood proud on its own two feet. It was the story of his life.

In that same year of 2005, he became the first living person other than the monarch to feature on a Canadian commemorative stamp, and he saw his name adopted for streets, concert halls and schools. He is survived by his fourth wife, Kelly, their daughter Celine, and six children from previous marriages.

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, jazz pianist, born August 15 1925; died December 23 2007

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

samedi, décembre 08, 2007

John Lennon

Yoko Honors John On The 27th Anniversary of his Death.

by Paul Cashmere @ Undercover - December 8 2007

Today, December 8th 2007, marks the 27th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.

To mark the occasion, John's widow Yoko has released the following statement.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
John Lennon & Yoko Ono

December 8, 2007

I miss you, John. 27 years later, I still wish I could turn back the clock to the Summer of 1980. I remember everything - sharing our morning coffee, walking in the park together on a beautiful day, and seeing your hand stretched to mine - holding it, reassuring me that I shouldn't worry about anything because our life was good.

I had no idea that life was about to teach me the toughest lesson of all. I learned the intense pain of losing a loved one suddenly, without warning, and without having the time for a final hug and the chance to say, "I love you," for the last time. The pain and shock of that sudden loss is with me every moment of every day. When I touched John's side of our bed on the night of December 8th, 1980, I realized that it was still warm. That moment has haunted me for the past 27 years - and will stay with me forever.

Even harder for me is watching what was taken away from our beautiful boy, Sean. He lives in silent anger over not having his Dad, whom he loved so much, around to share his life with. I know we are not alone. Our pain is one shared by many other families who are suffering as the victims of senseless violence. This pain has to stop.

Let's not waste the lives of those we have lost. Let's, together, make the world a place of love and joy and not a place of fear and anger. This day of John's passing has become more and more important for so many people around the world as the day to remember his message of Peace and Love and to do what each of us can to work on healing this planet we cherish. Let's: Think Peace, Act Peace, and Spread Peace. John worked for it all his life. He said, "there's no problem, only solutions." Remember, we are all together. We can do it, we must. I love you!

Yoko Ono Lennon

jeudi, décembre 06, 2007


Radiohead to shut down free download of 'In Rainbows'.

It's 'The End of the Beginning' next week


Radiohead have announced that the free download of their recent album 'In Rainbows' will come to an end next week.

In a posting today (December 5) on the band's Dead Air Space blog titled "The End of the Beginning", the band said that the "download area that is 'In Rainbows' will be shutting its doors on 10 December 2007."

As previously reported on NME.COM
, the band shocked the music industry in October by releasing the album as a download, with fans choosing how much to pay for the album.

In today's posting, the band also announced that they have no intention of creating additional discboxes of the album once the stock at the band's w.a.s.t.e. online store has run out.

They added: "For those of you who wish to buy 'In Rainbows' in the usual way, it will be available on CD/Vinyl and download from traditional outlets from the 31st December 2007. Thanks for everything."

--By our Los Angeles staff.

mercredi, décembre 05, 2007

Cansei de Ser Sexy

CSS live.

**** Brixton Academy, London

Caroline Sullivan
Wednesday December 5, 2007
The Guardian

Cansei de Ser Sexy (as they initially were until they gave in to the English-speaking world's lack of enthusiasm for other tongues) have already grasped a basic fact about how to win over UK audiences. Play party music to a British crowd when their reserve is down - at a summer festival, perhaps, or in the month before Christmas - and you have a career. CSS have exploited this knowledge: in June and July, no outdoor stage went unvisited by their five-female, one-male Brazilian rave-up, and here they are again, headlining 4,000-seaters in time for office-party season.

Their commitment to fun extends to decorating the stage with tinsel and small, bespangled Christmas trees, and the band arrive on stage dressed as gift-wrapped presents. As a tape of Jingle Bells plays and "snow" drifts down from the ceiling, they gambol around with a lack of self-consciousness that would be alien to British bands. "It's the best time of year!" bawls Lovefoxxx, the cat-suited firecracker who acts as mistress of ceremonies and singer.

She is the one band member who might be recognised by those outside CSS's indie-rave world, by virtue of being the loudest component of a loud band. A year of touring their self-titled debut album has not quenched her enthusiasm for being the centre of attention - far from it. More dedicated amateur than conventional singer, she still derives joy from yapping the words to Music Is My Hot Hot Sex and CSS Suxxx. And it is Lovefoxxx's dervish-dancing that keeps the mind from wandering when songs occasionally blur into garage-rock mush, which is the inevitable outcome of six people pounding out tracks that are more pulsing rhythms than "tunes" as such.

There are occasional big-chorus moments, though - Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above and the new mock-reggae Jamaica Song stand out here - and when they happen, band and audience frenziedly bond. Brazil may be better at producing footballers and Britain superior at making rock music, but at moments like this, it is one happy bilingual family. "Let's reggae all day!" bleats Lovefoxxx, which makes about as much sense as any of her lyrics - again, though, it is all in the delivery. It is easy to see why these former art students have been embraced by the fashionistas, but don't let that put you off.

· At the Academy, Glasgow, tonight. Box office: 0141-418 3000. Then touring.

Useful links

UK venues

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007