Reviews for Oscar Peterson : The Man and His Jazz


Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
Batten pays thorough tribute to the prolific and long-reigning king of jazz piano with an account of Peterson's life that focuses largely on his musicianship and on the family members and professional colleagues who influenced it. Typical of jazz biographies, the narrative is well larded with references to other musicians, most of whom will be unknown to all but real aficionados of the genre--but as a veteran music journalist, the author describes his subject's career highlights and distinctive techniques both live and on record with particular authority and precision. Despite being illustrated with badly reproduced photographs (including two of the author himself with Peterson), this profile offers serious students of jazz insights aplenty into one of the modern age's greatest performers. The back matter features a highly selective but annotated discography. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
This is a touching biography of the great jazz pianist who triumphed over adversity to become a legendary artist. The absorbing but lengthy volume, most appropriate for teens, will foster appreciation for Peterson's hard work, as well as for early founders of jazz, including Peterson's mentor Norman Granz. Small, grainy black-and-white photographs break up the text-heavy chapters. Discography is appended. Bib., ind.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 7-10--Peterson may not be a household name in the U.S., but, in his native Canada, the legendary jazz pianist is a pretty big deal. Few pianists could match Peterson in terms of technical virtuosity, but fellow countryman (and former jazz reviewer) Batten goes beyond the music and shows that hard work and parental support helped the musician distinguish himself among the many jazz greats of his day. The author seems unable at times to pinpoint his intended audience. For instance, while discussing the racism Peterson faced touring in the American South, he uses awkward and clichéd language that seems geared toward elementary students. Yet when describing Peterson's playing, he highlights intricacies of the music that only a jazz fan would understand. The book's design is also largely problematic; in many cases, photographs on a given page have absolutely nothing to do with the surrounding text. Take the discussion of Peterson's father's failing health, which shares space with a photo of Peterson and Fred Astaire joking together. While certainly worthy of a biopic, this book will be a hard sell for most young readers. The esoteric subject, inconsistent writing, and subpar organization make it an additional purchase.--Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH

[Page 116]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2013 February
If you are looking for a solid biography for middle schoolers of the man who was arguably the top jazz pianist for over twenty years and among the best for the rest of his life, then look no further than this book. Though it is only briefly referenced, the author met Peterson back in 1965, and his clear respect for the man, as well as Peterson's formidable jazz skills, shows throughout this book Starting with the story of Peterson's parents, and then his own childhood, this book feels like a traditional biography. The strictly linear presentation goes away, however, as Peterson reaches adulthood. Then chapters focus on themes, both musical and historic. One follows Peterson's experience with racism and his eventual impact on the indirect racism found in 1980s television commercials. Other chapters follow his musical trio's evolution or particular albums. Still inexorably leading you through Peterson's life, Batten makes the reader unfamiliar with songs run to the web to listen for the first time and will doubtless make the Peterson fan listen to his music with, as the pianist himself says, "a newfound understanding of how best to interpret a musical selection," this one tempered by an understanding of the pianist's own life.--Beth Karpas 4Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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