In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Mauricio Segura’s novel Oscar is an inventive glimpse into jazz great Oscar Peterson’s time in Montreal.
The Montreal Review of Books wrote of the book:
“Bursts at the seams with historical events, colourful characters, and timeless themes…with its lilting strains of magical realism and strange sense of time, the book often recalls greats like Patrick Chamoiseau and Edwidge Danticat…with a keen eye to the history of Montreal and a knowing ear attuned to the ins and outs of swing and bebop, Segura shows both great force and a certain playfulness.”
My novel Oscar is divided into seven chapters. Hence, seven tracks.
Night Train, by Oscar Peterson (album Night Train, Oscar Peterson)
This composition, written by Duke Ellington, perfectly simulates the monotonous rhythm of a train. I like to think that it reminded Peterson of childhood nights when he waited for his father, a porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway, to come home from Western Canada.
Place St. Henri, by Oscar Peterson (album Canadiana Suite, Oscar Peterson)
This Peterson composition, with its speedy melody, marvelously describes the liveliness of the street scenes in Little Burgundy, Montreal, when Oscar was a kid in the Thirties.
Tiger Rag, by Art Tatum (album, Art Tatum’s Finest Hour)
Here’s an old jazz standard. Pianist Art Tatum’s version of it is probably the most spectacular one ever recorded, as he demonstrates the length of his virtuosity. I like to think it was both exhilarating and painful for Peterson to listen to this track, because of his friendly rivalry with Tatum.
Tenderly, by Oscar Peterson (album, Oscar Peterson’s Finest Hour)
If you have to listen to just one Oscar Peterson track, this should be the one. A young O. P. played it in 1949 at Carnegie Hall, and, as the old saying goes, the rest is history.
Un poco loco, by Bud Powell (album, The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume One)
This Bud Powell Latin jazz composition is the quintessential bebop tune. It has an in-your-face quality, it’s raw, and it greatly contrasts with Oscar Peterson’s more traditional piano style. Bud disliked Oscar’s music, and Oscar disliked Bud’s music back. Jazz is a tough competitive world.
Perdido, by Oscar Peterson (album, Exclusively for My Friends, Oscar Peterson)
Duke Ellington first recorded this jazz standard in the Forties. Oscar played it in the Sixties and recorded it with a German label, owned by a big fan of his, engineer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer. This album is his all-time favourite. In my book, it is very telling that Peterson does not choose as his best record an LP with long-time manager and “friend,” Norman Granz.
Ellingtonia, by Oscar Peterson (album, Oscar Peterson et Joe Pass, à la Salle Pleyel)
If you want to hear Peterson at his most astonishing, this recording from the Seventies is for you. You will experience the art of the late Peterson, altogether a living legend of jazz and a machine of supernatural powers.
Mauricio Segura and Oscar links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Book Notes (2015 – ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 – 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 – 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays
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guest book reviews
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Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film’s soundtracks)
weekly music release lists