Last night I had the pleasure of attending one of the greatest live jazz programs I’ve ever been to. The evening was a celebration of the life of Oscar Peterson, famous jazz pianist renowned for his “chops” on the signature Bösendorfer piano.
To watch a video from my experience click here.
The event was held at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake and began with a screening of the 2003 documentary film, “Oscar Peterson: Keeping the Groove Alive.” The movie was followed by a Q&A session with Oscar’s wife Kelly, and daughter Céline. After the interview, the crowd moseyed over to the Shaw Festival Studio Theatre where a live jazz performance by Robi Botos and Dave Young paid tribute to the great works of Oscar Peterson. Many don’t know this, but Oscar composed several hundred pieces of music; some were never recorded or ever played live!
While viewing the documentary it was clear to see that Oscar led an extraordinary life. His deep commitment to his craft allowed him to steer clear of drugs and alcohol – something that I can personally admire as one who abstains from any mood/behaviour altering substances. I liked Oscar’s philosophy on addiction. He said, “the instrument should be your needle, and the music your addiction.” If only we could all find something positive to feel so passionately about, the world would be a much better place.
The concert that followed the film screening was the cherry on the cake. It was my first time seeing Robi Botos perform live and there are no words to describe how beautifully and effortlessly he plays piano. If you ask me there couldn’t have been a better way to honour Oscar. Robi was accompanied by Dave Young who is the original bass player for Oscar and was responsible for helping Oscar get back into music after suffering a stroke and losing the ability to play with his left hand.
The entire evening was an affair to remember, but what made it even more special was the official announcement that the first ever Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival will be taking place in February 2018 at the Shaw Festival Theatres, presented by Bravo Niagara and Oscar Peterson’s family. I, for one, cannot wait! I’m all about the jazz scene in Niagara and I’m so excited to see it grow.
To anyone who saw the movie La La Land, remember to keep jazz music alive by attending and supporting these live events. It really makes a difference so don’t stop and I’ll see you at the next event!