Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oscar Peterson Quartet with Joe Pass, live, in "Cakewalk".

In the chronicle of influential people and events to my journey, the story of my "experience" attending a concert involving Oscar Peterson needs to be told. This occurred in the mid-1980's, and was important in shaping my understanding of God's general revelation (through nature/creation). The following account is copied from a(n unfinished) manuscript that I have been working with for some time, and am now stuck: a book about music in Christian worship. This video, although not as powerful a statement (to me) as the performance that I attended, does provide an example of the Oscar Peterson magic, in a similar format (the trio that I witnessed did include the great guitarist, Joe Pass plus John Heard on bass).

"Some years ago, I attended a concert, ripe with enthusiasm in the (then) young, (always) aspiring jazz pianist. I was going to hear Ella Fitzgerald. No one sang (or sings) like Ella, and I was anticipating a delightful experience. I didn’t mind waiting through the opening "act"; the Oscar Peterson Trio (at that point I was only slightly aware of Oscar) to get to Ella. As the first notes sounded, however, the words of Duke Ellington describing his first experience with (the greatest jazz pianist, and arguably, the greatest musician of the 20th century) Art Tatum are fitting: "I was quite unprepared for what I was to encounter". Being "blown away" doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt, and reacted, to what I was hearing. Stunned and amazed, yes, but that was only the opening to an "experience" much deeper; an "experience" of worship. Not corporate worship in any Biblically regulated sense, but private worship in the "I’m in the presence of the Lord, and it is too wonderful for me" sense. All that I heard and experienced transcended Oscar, or Joe Pass, Or John Heard, who were but the vessels of God’s revelation to me (not at the church, but) from the stage. No one preached a sermon, no one read from the Bible. It wasn’t necessary. God was speaking volumes to me. I was impressed with Oscar, yes, but I was (and am) in awe of God. What beauty, what heights of excitement, what emotion (by the time Ella performed, I was exhausted)! Oscar was a window through which (to me) "God’s attributes" were clearly seen. I am without excuse; I must, I am compelled to praise, honor, and worship God."


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