Concert Preview: OSCAR, WITH LOVE (Disney Hall)

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by Tony Frankel on March 18, 2019

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


It’s a simple idea that could easily have caused higgledy-piggledy results. In fact, many tribute albums involving various artists contain tracks that are jarringly inconsistent and smack of commercialism. Not so with Oscar, with Love. Kelly Peterson, the widow of Oscar Peterson (1925-2007), personally produced this extraordinary three-disc set which not only pays tribute to one of the greatest jazz pianists we will ever know, it introduces us to ten never-before-recorded Peterson compositions. The tracks, which are performed beautifully by 16 present-day crackerjack piano virtuosi – include 7 new pieces written in Oscar’s memory and 19 of his widely known works. The invited pianists were chosen by Kelly because they were either close friends of Oscar or those whom he admired.

To my utter shock, it turns out that eight of these hot keyboardists are meeting for one-night only live at Disney Hall for a concert version of Oscar, with Love, set for this Saturday March 23, 2019, at 8, courtesy of the LA Phil. Along with jazz orchestra leader John Clayton on bass, the pianists include Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Renee Rosnes, and Robi Botos. Everyone sounds amazing, but get ready for an abundance of surprises. I can guarantee a mixture of elegance, blues, swing, introspection, ballads, and even an original composition: Mr. Botos will play his own “Emmanuel.” Kelly and Oscar’s daughter Céline will be hosting and will no doubt add some touching stories to this sparkling, heartfelt effort.

Also on the program is the sensitive Bill Charlap and two of my favorite young lions of the jazz piano world: the old soul of Clark Terry protégé Justin Kauflin (who gave an awesome solo concert in L.A. recently), star of the documentary Keep On Keepin’ On, Alan Hicks’ ode to the friendship between teacher and student (see Stage and Cinema‘s review); and the astoundingly inventive Gerald Clayton (son of this evening’s bassist), who I can’t get enough of. This extraordinarily accessible concert is perfect for jazz aficionados, newbies, and those who simply appreciate dreamy piano playing. What a winner.

Oscar, with Love
presented by LA Phil
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.
Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 8pm
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit LA Phil

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