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November 20, 2021 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Oscar Peterson teaches Dick Cavett what other piano players' styles are like. (SLYT)

Added bonus: Herbie Hancock discusses music theory, the mentorship of Miles Davis and "butter notes." (SLYT)
posted by sardonyx (22 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Delightful and educational. Thanks!
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:48 AM on November 20

Wonderful video. The bonus Herbie Hancock video is really great too, and surprisingly inspiring!
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:24 PM on November 20

Oscar Peterson is one of my all time favourite musicians. Effortless musicality to match the effortless technicality. I've seen this particular video before, but it was great to revisit.

Bonus: Oscar Peterson and Count Basie in conversation.
posted by Dysk at 12:35 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]

Thats amazing. Just being able to flit between styles from bar to bar, discussing them on the hoof.

(Also, I'm trying to imagine popular TV entertainment doing a reasonably knowledgeable bit on piano playing styles and topping it off with an offhand joke involving the expression "transitive verb"... who were the audience to be so trusted?)
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:50 PM on November 20 [7 favorites]

What a fun video. Effortless really is the word, though as he notes this is something he can do only after an immense amount of work and practice. And it helps me understand something I, not a player myself, have always had trouble with, namely how two (or ten) pianists can play the same notes differently beyond the elementary tempo and power.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:55 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]

A genius and a class act. Yes, I love how the piano is such an extension of his body that while he plays and explains what he's doing, he's just looking at Cavett like they're having a normal conversation across a table.
posted by gwint at 2:00 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]

topping it off with an offhand joke involving the expression "transitive verb"... who were the audience to be so trusted?

PBS and supporters like you. There's a 2 part 1979 interview on there with Robin Williams where he both does a bit about Nefertiti's period, some impressions of William F. Buckley and Truman Capote, references Rod McKuen's poetry, "Dante, party of 2...", and in part 2 he speaks about depression.
posted by mikelieman at 2:41 PM on November 20 [8 favorites]

There's a master at analyzing and reproducing others' piano styles. However, not to dispute Peterson's keyboard mastery, but I don't think he's been as influential on other pianists, such as Monk (of course), Ellington, and, for me, Alice Coltrane, Don Pullen, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Sun Ra.
posted by kozad at 4:56 PM on November 20

No, Peterson wasn't so influential in that sense - he didn't really push the envelope stylistically at a time when jazz was developing tremendously quickly. He wasn't an innovator, but he developed an incredible mastery of his instrument and music.
posted by Dysk at 5:03 PM on November 20 [6 favorites]

I adore Oscar Peterson, so I only wish this wonderful video was an hour long. His playing always feels to me like having a surprising conversation with a fascinating, magnetic person at a party. Coincidentally, 'tis the season when I listen to his Christmas album every day, a practice I hight recommend.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:53 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]

That was a real treat! Thanks for posting!
posted by james33 at 5:21 AM on November 21

Oscar Peterson was just phenomenal.

And yeah, I know of no contemporary equivalent to Cavett or his audiences. The consumption of popular music is . . . different now.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:03 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]

What a treat. As a dilettante I recognize the styles but never thought about what was going on to produce them. And Peterson was so personable and charismatic--I don't think I'd ever seen him on camera before.
posted by mark k at 8:47 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]

There's a Rick Beato video that's just him in love with an incredible Oscar Peterson Trio tune. As a non-pianinst, I found it helped to have explained just what's going on, like the Cavett clip.
posted by YoungStencil at 9:09 AM on November 21 [6 favorites]

Thanks YoungStencil for posting that. Oscar was really cooking in that video.
posted by sardonyx at 10:30 AM on November 21

This is fun. Usually when people try do this, it winds up a bit cringe-worthy. It only works if the performer is a total amateur or at least as talented as everyone they're mimicking. Peterson is the latter and nails it without breaking a sweat.

As someone who only knows Dick Cavett from incomprehensible pop-culture references and hasn't seen video before. . . he's a pretty strange dude. I'm intrigued. The assumption of a knowlegable audience is unusual.

Does anyone understand what asking if Armstrong is a good trumpet player was about? That's a weird question. It seems like Peterson thought it was a weird question too. I can't figure out if it's a reference to something specific.

(Prompted by this post, I just bought "Exclusively for My Friends" for the second time. Whoever has my old copy can keep it.)
posted by eotvos at 1:17 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]

Do I understand most of what I just watched? Not really. Still completely delightful!
posted by brilliantine at 7:14 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Oscar Peterson is one of my favorite musicians. I swear that guy can bend a note on the piano. And the notes in the runs he does - so distinct, like individual pearls on a string.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:30 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

I miss Dick Cavett.
posted by cenoxo at 7:08 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Does anyone understand what asking if Armstrong is a good trumpet player was about? That's a weird question. It seems like Peterson thought it was a weird question too. I can't figure out if it's a reference to something specific.

I think there was a period where people thought of him mostly as a slightly corny entertainer, "Hello Dolly", making funny faces and that kind of thing. This is what I thought when I was a teenager. Perhaps Cavett also had this misunderstanding, or, as I suspect, he was feigning to so that Peterson could set the record straight. There was a time when Wynton Marsalis finished that job very effectively, in the 80's.

I miss Dick Cavett.

About 20 years ago, UNC assigned a book called "Approaching the Koran", iirc, as reading for incoming first-year students, who were then to discuss it in seminar groups. This became a culture war gong for the right to ring, surprise. Jon Stewart did a hilarious bit where he came to visit and exposed that the school had an "Al-Umni network" etc.

So at the height of this, a UNC professor accepted an invitation to come on the Bill O'Reilly show to discuss or debate the issue. I was acquainted with this professor, who was a lovely man, an old-school humanities professor, very kind and mannered and cultured. I felt sick - I was worried that he had no idea what he was getting into. How I put it then was "Oh God, he thinks he's going on the Dick Cavett show or something". But I underestimated him; he figured out what the deal was at once, in the interview, and more than held his own.
posted by thelonius at 5:25 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]

I'm a little late getting to it, but thank you for posting this wonderful clip.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:16 AM on November 24

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson (WP bio) and YT links.
posted by cenoxo at 10:13 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

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