Many attentive and enthusiastic listeners braved the heat and humidity to celebrate what would have been Oscar Peterson's 90th birthday at the special NAC performance ©2015 Brett Delmage
Many attentive and enthusiastic listeners braved the heat and humidity to celebrate what would have been Oscar Peterson's 90th birthday at the special NAC performance ©2015 Brett Delmage
On Saturday, August 15 – 90 years to the day after the late celebrated jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was born in Montreal – the National Arts Centre celebrated his birthday. The show was on the sidewalk outside the NAC, with the popular statue of Peterson by sculptor Ruth Abernethy looking on. Peterson's widow, Kelly, also spoke at the show.

Hundreds of jazz fans showed up to remember Peterson. They heard local pianist Clayton Connell, together with Kelly Craig on trumpet, Ben Heard on bass, and Michel Delage on drums, perform Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom" along with several standards he made famous.

Hardly anyone moved or talked during the 35-minute show, despite the broiling August sun. But when NAC communications director Rosemary Thompson announced at the end of the show that the NAC had lemonade available inside, it vanished very fast (as did the birthday cupcakes)!

OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed Connell and Thompson about the show and their love of his music. You can see them and excerpts from the show in our video.

    – Alayne McGregor

Also read our story about the show: