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Oscar Peterson: The Man and His Jazz Hardcover – September 11, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books; First Edition edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770492690
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770492691
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. Grades 6-9. --John Peters


“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…. 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….”
VOYA Magazine

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"...a fine introduction, especially for a young reader."
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—The Globe and Mail
"...a wonderful book. Jack Batten has written a riveting sports story...an intriguing slice of social and economic life in the early decades of the 20th century, raising some provocative questions..."
— Books in Canada

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I liked the concept of the book and I love learning about people's lives, especially how they have overcome adversity, but I didn't like the author's writing style. I found his sentences to be choppy and they often broke grammatical rules, such as "Do not start a sentence with 'and' or 'but." Things like that bug me. I did like the inclusion of the pictures, bibliography and index. I think all of those things will benefit someone who would like to know more about Oscar's life outside of reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Jack Batten's fine tribute to OSCAR PETERSON, a musician he so obviously admires, will also make a great primer on jazz music for the young reader who might be just beginning to form his or her own particular musical tastes and preferences. There are many lightly documented references to the origins of jazz in the American south, particularly in the New Orleans area, as well as to its early pioneers, people like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Christian, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie 'Bird' Parker, Art Tatum and countless others. Batten takes the time in his narrative of Oscar's life and development as a musician, to digress just enough to give useful thumbnail biographies of many of these earlier musicians and contemporaries who influenced Peterson. He also gives well-deserved attention to Oscar's early mentor and nearly life-long manager, the jazz impressario, Norman Granz.

Peterson's early life as a poor black kid from the St. Henri ghetto of Montreal is documented too, but with a difference. His father, a railroad porter, always alloted funds from his meager earnings to provide music lessons for all his children. Oscar was the 'natural,' the one with perfect pitch who stood out from his siblings. His father also approved Oscar's dropping out of school at fifteen to pursue his musical career, since Oscar was already making good money as a musician by then in local dance bands. Many years later this gifted high-school dropout was to have countless honorary degrees bestowed on him for his musical contributions to Canada and the world of music.

While I realize that OSCAR PETERSON: THE MAN AND HIS JAZZ, is intended for a YA audience, I still found the book's near hagiographic treatment of its subject just a bit too condescending and overly simplistic.
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