oscar, with love

oscar-with-love The legendary Oscar Peterson would have turned 90 this year. To commemorate, his wife Kerry decided to produce an album of his compositions on his old piano performed by his old friends. She launched it with a special concert last night at Koerner Hall. I was lucky enough to be there.

IMG_9943It was pure serendipity. Got the last tickets, high in the upper balcony looking far down to the stage. I felt like a voyeur at a wonderful private party. 8 artists played a mix of Peterson’s songs on his Bosendorfer Imperial piano that they had somehow moved from the basement studio of his house in Mississauga.

I am ashamed of how little I knew about Peterson. I had listened to Night Train and heard stories of his performances at the Purple Onion on Bloor Street. Turns out he played everything from Bach to Beatles, won a multitude of awards, including 8 Grammys and collaborated with everyone who was anyone in the jazz world. Duke Ellington called him the “Maharaja of the keyboard” while Ray Charles noted, “Oscar could play like a motherfucker”. He wrote thousands of hours of music.

canada post  His daughter Celine hosted the evening, introducing the songs and the performers with personal stories, occasionally forgetting her formal role; calling him Dad. So charming! My favorite anecdote was hearing about Uncle Olli (pianist Oliver Jones to the rest of us) and her father taking piano lessons from Peterson’s sister Daisy when they were kids together in Montreal. Jones played Celine’s Waltz. Peterson had played the song to her all her life but had never recorded it. I choked back tears.

oscar with kelly (photo from metronews toronto)

oscar with kelly (photo from metronews toronto)

When she introduced her mother, the crowd rose to their feet. Kelly spoke of the challenges of getting this labour of love produced. She has originally assumed a record label would leap at the chance…. A bunch of great (and famous) musicians interpreting a great man’s music… seemed like a slam-dunk. Not one was interested. She had to do it herself. The record (I’m old fashioned, plan to buy it on vinyl!) features never before released compositions as well as a few old favourites.

IMG_9961If Gerald Clayton’s recording of Hymn to Freedom is even half as good as his live rendition last night, it is worth buying the album for that alone. It may just be the perfect gift to find under the tree this year. http://www.oscarwithlove.com

gone fishing

IMG_0463 If John was surprised I wanted to go fishing, Hunter was downright stunned. He thought it was an awful idea. He reminded me that I hate killing anything. As kids the boys were told “you kill it you eat it”… and I meant it. Everything except mosquitos. I spent my youth bringing home stray dogs, half dead birds and rescuing bugs floating in the pool. He advised me not to go…. I would turn a wonderful adventure into a miserable experience for basically any human I came in contact with.IMG_8745

But isn’t it important to know where your food comes from; not just the supermarket? I would go, I would be cheerful and I would catch and release. Continue reading

langara island lodge

IMG_0508IMG_8653John and I have been truly spoiled by our friends this summer. Recently, we were guests of Patti and Ted Hirst at the fabulous Langara Island Lodge. John was a bit surprised when I accepted their generous invite… after all, it is a fishing lodge and I have never been keen on catching my own food. I realize the hypocrisy; no one tucks into a meal more enthusiastically. Continue reading