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  #1  
Old Nov 17, 2003, 06:37 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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Today's Globe and Mail

This review, to me, captures the essence of the split between the way musicians would hear a show, and the way a writer would hear a show. This is self-important, unneccecary, inappropriate and rather cowardly, if you ask me. I know nobody did ask me, but I just felt like putting it out there anyway, because I felt really horrible when I read it. I wasn't there, but I bet if Miller had taken the time to ask any musician in the audience how Oscar sounded, they would have been hearing more than "jumbled, blues and gospel licks". Why must writers take themselves so seriously when they have so little in the way to offer to a discussion about music? This seemed like a personal attack from a rather bitter man. But I could be wrong. He pays almost mocking lip service to Oscar's greatness as he attacks his "alliegence to swing and the blues." This really disturbed me... any thoughts, anyone? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...tainment/Music
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  #2  
Old Nov 17, 2003, 07:05 PM
Yodi
 
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I agree morgan. Considering he seems to be attacking petersons lack of direction within his performace, the writer himself..possibly in the name of irony..seems to lack as much direction in his review as he seemed to take away from oscars performance. I was not there of course, so I can not give a fair review of the performance in my view, but this peice reeks of hipocracy in my opinion...and I did read this peice so I can give a review of his literary skills... 2 stars :-)
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  #3  
Old Nov 17, 2003, 07:43 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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It was just a shitty way to start my day. Seeing one of my heroes attacked on the pages of a newspaper that should take every effort and oppourtunity to champion him.
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  #4  
Old Nov 18, 2003, 10:14 AM
John Doheny John Doheny is offline
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I'm sorry guys, but I don't see any of that in this review. At what point did you see him "mocking" Peterson's allegiance to swing and the blues? What he's saying is that Peterson is a defender of these traditions who takes a very conservative line on any new developments outside of that tradition. That's not criticism, it's Peterson's own stated position.

And Morgan, I'm not sure if your statement that "no musician would be hearing" the jumbled, incoherent performance that Miller heard holds water. Peterson has been dealing with some very serious health issues for a long time now (the last time I saw him, accepting an honorary degree at UBC in 1994, he was recovering from a stroke and was in a wheelchair).

I think it's very commendable that some of you younger cats have the deep appreciation and respect for the old school dudes. But it's just possible that Peterson gave a bad performance ( it HAS been known to happen) and for Miller to review it as anything else would have been intellectually dishonest.
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  #5  
Old Nov 18, 2003, 03:33 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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I just don't really understand what Miller has to prove by trying to hold OP to the standards of 40 years ago. For what it's worth, from every musicians I know who's seen Oscar in the past few years have said he's STILL mindblowing. Left hand capabilities diminished or not.
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  #6  
Old Nov 18, 2003, 04:15 PM
Guy Guy is offline
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I'm of mixed feelings on the review. Like you, Morgan, Oscar is one of my heroes. I don't see the point in harping on the fact that at 78 he ain't what he used to be. So what? But it should be mentioned. As for writers vs musicians, ask a few of the musicians who attended the Anita O'Day concert in Seattle a few months back what they thought of her. One told me that she was awful. I saw the show, too, and appreciated her more for what she was than what she is. So maybe musicians would be even tougher on the old crowd's current performances than lay people would be.
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  #7  
Old Nov 18, 2003, 04:16 PM
John Doheny John Doheny is offline
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I went back and read it again. I still don't see what you're getting at (sorry for being a nitpicker, but I'm a grad student/researcher now. Picking nits is our ROAD GAME, Jack!)

A close reading of the review shows Mark Miller is suggesting, in what I think is a very respectful way (note his references to OP 'deserving' the standing ovations based on past triumphs, and his mention of Oscar's numerous awards and classic recordings) the the guy wasn't playing very well. Now ,neither you nor I were there, so, yes, it's possible he played great. But Mark Miller is a highly respected critic and a man who's heard an awful lot of jazz. Given his track record, I'm inclined to give his opinion some weight. It really is possible for a man in his seventies with serious health problems to have an off night once in a while. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it would be bad journalism (not to mention cloying sycophancy) for Miller to rave about how his brilliant technique was undimmed by age and illness if that was clearly not the case. It happens. Take a listen to Charlie Parker's recording of "Lover Man" or Art Pepper's "Surf Ride" sometime for an example of great players who suddenly find their fingers aren't working very well.

Now is you're saying it was DISRESPECTFUL of Miller to write that review, that is another discussion entirely.
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  #8  
Old Nov 18, 2003, 09:51 PM
John Korsrud John Korsrud is offline
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Mark Miller is one of the few jazz critics whose opinion I give any weight to. I read his reviews on an ongoing basis, and he has the ability to talk about specifics with a high degree of acuracy and education that I think both lay-people and musicians can relate to. (Even when he's given me a critique I've been able to say that his opinions had merit.) But Morgan and Yodi...my gosh...you are both disagreeing with the review, in very harsh terms at that - even though you admit you didn't even see the concert! If that doesn't take moxie, I don't know what does. I'm positive Miller holds Peterson to the highest regard. He is not a "rah-rah - isn't everything fantastic" writer, but he's certainly not bitter. (though, Phil Dwyer might have a differing opinion) I find he makes a point to give fair and balanced reviews (maybe even a little too balanced). Without doubt, Miller is Canada's most senior and preminant writer of jazz.

By fluke, I saw the concert for about 3 tunes ( I was back east and it was broadcast locally) and I was very saddened to see a musician (who is both, arguably, jazz's greatest pianist, and, perhaps after Glenn Gould, Canada's most famous and respected musician) who so little resembled himself. You literally wouldn't recognize his playing. Even with diminished skills, it just didn't sound anything like Oscar Peterson. He was NOT mindblowing. Even his ability to create a series of simple connecting lines wasn't there. So it is not just his physical ability that has been affected.
Oscar deserves full marks for continuing to perform, especially in declining health, and we should all try to get one last chance to see him as, I'm sure, his performing will be less and less frequent. He is a Canadian hero and, no doubt, deserves that standing ovation.
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  #9  
Old Nov 19, 2003, 06:23 AM
Phil Dwyer Phil Dwyer is offline
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My opinion differs very little from yours John, and I thank you for so eloquently summing up a lot of what I thought about this topic. While some of us have a theory that Mark has a special editing device on his computer to expunge any three consectutive words which might be used for promo purposes by a musician, most of what you say about him is bang on, in my opinion. There is no doubting Mark's sincerity and dedication to the documentation of Canadian jazz, past and present. In the case of the OP review he is on sensitive ground because Oscar is such an icon. I would have to say that OP probably had the most impact on me of any musician up until the point where I discovered John Coltrane. To this day I can sing dozens of his solos by heart, and at one point I think I owned over 50 OP albums. There is no denying his huge contribution to jazz, and also to the Canadian cultural fabric. He has represented the best that this country has to offer.

Mark's review reflects the here and now however, and that is his job as a journalist. The reality is that OP just cannot perform at a high level anymore-I find it painful to hear. I don't deny him the right to continue performing, because he has earned the right to do whatever he damn well wants to, but if he is going to charge tens of thousands of dollars to do a concert, then he is opening himself up to being reviewed by the press. And if someone from the press chooses to call it as he sees it, that's the way she goes. Is that cruel? Life is cruel, you get shitty reviews, sometimes you get a good one. In Oscar's case he has had a lifetime of public idolation, awards, honorary doctorates,financial success, and above all, a legacy of beautiful music. Mark Miller would be the last one to deny this, and while I find it strange to be sort of defending him,(esp. in a case involving one of my idols) he gets paid to write the truth as he sees it. If you don't like it, remember that it's only his opinion anyway, although in this case I think he has a point.
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  #10  
Old Nov 19, 2003, 02:43 PM
Morgan Childs Morgan Childs is offline
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Thanks for the insight, John and Phil... I guess the critic's job is to call it as they see it, which is why I'm glad I'm not a critic. My respect for OP would be too great to ever print a bad word about him. I realize though, that those are the blinders I chose due to my respect for Dr. Peterson.
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  #11  
Old Nov 20, 2003, 02:05 AM
Jesse Cahill Jesse Cahill is offline
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It seems we forget that critics aren't around to serve the intrests of musicians or to act as our booster club, but rather to validate what we do to the public. A musician doesn't need some one to tell them what recording is good or who sounded great at last years jazz fest. We have our own ears for that. I'm not saying that critics should be ignored, I'm saying that as musicians we shouldn't give it so much weight one way or the other. There writings should be taken in context like Phil said, as jurnalists.

Just a thought here-

While we don't make the same kind of $$$ as athletes, at least we don't have to put up with the media telling us it's time to go because we're getting old and slow.
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  #12  
Old Nov 23, 2003, 12:56 PM
Guy Guy is offline
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oscar bio

A new documentary on Oscar is going to be on "Life and Times" on CBC-TV this Tuesday at 7. Looking forward to it.
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