Building Rhythm Together for Christ's Love

October 26, 2019

Thinking About Jazz   1-3pm

(free event: light lunch served,

door prizes, great discussion)

Oscar Peterson:

The Will to Swing

Born Oscar Emmanuel Peterson (8/25/1925-12/23/2007) he was a Canadian jazz pianist and composer whose career spanned over 60 years.  He produced over 200 recordings and won 8 Grammy Awards in addition to numerous other honors.  Born in Montreal to West Indian parents he grew up in the Little Burgundy neighborhood where jazz thrived in his early years.  At age 5, he began playing piano and trumpet but a bout of tuberculosis ended his trumpet career and relegated him to piano.  His father Daniel, a porter on Canadian Pacific Railway, was an amateur trumpet player and one of Oscar’s early teachers along with his sister Daisy, who taught him classical piano.  By age 9, his piano skills impressed professional players; his work ethic involved 4-6 hours of practice each day.  At 14, he won a national music competition organized by Canadian Broadcasting then dropped out of high school to become a professional musician playing in concert halls, hotels and a weekly radio program.  By age 20, he was recording on Victor Records gravitating toward boogie-woogie and swing with a particular fondness for Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson.  On the way to the Montreal airport, Norman Granz heard him on a radio broadcast from a local club and insisted the driver take him right there.  In 1949, Granz introduced Oscar at Jazz at the Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and became his manager and close friend for the rest of his life.  For much of his career he worked in trios; often with bass and guitar, for a long while with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis.  When Ellis left in 1958, Oscar added a drummer Ed Thigpen, thinking no one could replace Ellis.  But later he experimented with other collaborations including Ben Webster (sax), Clark Terry (trumpet) and Milt Jackson (vibes).  He was remembered as an under-stated accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald.  He always admired and was compared to Art Tatum; when he first heard a recording of his, Oscar was so intimidated that he quit playing for several weeks.  He always deferred to Tatum and hesitated to ever play in front of him.  But they became close friends and supporters throughout.Oscar had arthritis from youth which became troublesome in his later years.  After a stroke in 1993, his left side was weakened and he never fully recovered use of his left hand.  Still it was said that he was better with his right hand than most others using both.  Always a large man, he loved to cook and eat.  As a lifelong smoker whenever he tried to quit he gained weight so never did succeed at that.  His health declined in 2007 preventing him from receiving an award at Carnegie Hall and performing at the Toronto Jazz Festival; he died in December. Larry Appelbaum joins us to provide an engaging presentation.


Other 2019 TAJ Events

February 23th
Jamil Nasser:  Upright Bass

April 27th
Billy Eckstine:  Mr. B

 June 29th
Lee Morgan:  I Called Him Morgan

August 31st
Jelly Roll Morton:  Jazz’s First Arranger

October 26th
Oscar Peterson:  The Will to Swing

December 4th

Mary Lou Williams:  1st Lady of Jazz Keyboard

Thinking About Jazz is a public service brought to you by Southwest Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC)--a cultural ministry arm of Westminster DC. 

This free educational experience happens every other month from 1-3pm  on the 4th Saturday (except December).  Each one focuses on a different giant or genre of jazz and features vintage video footage and select audio recordings delivered by experts in the subject matter.

The material along with Q & A allows participants to go deeper into the history, stories and power of the art form and those who have created it.

Light refreshments are served and door prizes are given.

  • Rev. Brian Hamilton, President
  • Lloyd Jordan, Chair
  • Dick Smith, Jazz Night Program Director

Marilyn Abraham, James Besley, Yolanda R. Coleman, Vyllorya Evans, Gwen Fleming, Wilma Goldstein, Sue K. Gresham, Blanche Hamilton, Alicia Hetzner, Donald Roe, Tangela Roe, Brenda Wilder, Von Deleah Williams
The Thinking About Jazz Committee
holds a planning meeting the last Saturday of January, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, 10am to noon at Westminster.  You are invited to join this committee!  Check the calendar for the next meeting.  You will enjoy your welcome to the committee and the opportunity to be part of planning another great Thinking About Jazz event.