Canada Unveils Oscar Peterson Stamp

Classic Arts News   Canada Unveils Oscar Peterson Stamp
Canada Post introduced a postage stamp honoring Oscar Peterson yesterday, on the jazz pianist's 80th birthday.

The ceremony took place at an HMV store in Toronto. Pianist and singer Diana Krall, a fellow Canadian, made a surprise appearance and sang a birthday tribute to Peterson. Peterson himself unveiled the stamp, a 50-cent stamp that combines an image of Peterson's hands at the piano with a portrait.

Peterson told a crowd of fans and friends that he was "very honored and proud that jazz has brought me to this acclaim by the Canadian people."

Born in Montreal to West Indian parents, Peterson began to perform publicly as a teenager, playing with a local big band led by trumpeter Johnny Holmes. In 1949, he was introduced to American audiences when he appeared as part of impresario Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic series. In 1952, he formed a trio with guitarist Barney Kessell (later replaced by Herb Ellis) and bassist Ray Brown; it was the first of a long series of highly successful groups that also included bassists George Mraz and Sam Jones, guitarist Joe Pass, and drummers Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham, and Ray Price.

In 1993, Peterson suffered a stroke, and did not perform for two years, but has since returned to performing and recording.

The Canadian stamp is not be the first to honor Peterson; in 2003, he appeared on an Austrian stamp issued to mark the 175th anniversary of B‹sendorfer, Peterson's piano manufacturer of choice.

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