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A Standing Ovation! The James Pearson Trio wows Peak Music

“Today’s concert wasn’t good or very good – it was brilliant!”, feedback that summed up the incredible start to the new Peak Music season. The James Pearson Jazz Trio offered a superb musical portrait of Oscar Peterson through fine musicianship delivered with their signature laid back style.

The trio (James Pearson on piano, Sam Burgess on bass and drummer Chris Higginbottom) immediately had the audience toe tapping and head nodding to their propulsive rhythms as they delivered a time line of Oscar Peterson hits including Art Tatum’s rendition of “Tea for Two”, “Get me to the church on time” from My Fair Lady, the lively “Place St Henri” from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite album before finishing with “Hymn to Freedom” from the Night Train album, with Pearson demonstrating an incredible piano rumble.

Pearson delivered an amusing patter throughout describing Peterson’s life from its early beginnings in Canada training as a classical pianist, through his various “lucky breaks” to world fame, whilst dazzlingly demonstrating Peterson’s sheer brilliance; Peterson could play jazz with both hands rather than just use the left hand for chords as is more normal and so can Pearson! Peterson’s biggest break is now the stuff of legends; unable to legally play the Carnegie Hall in New York due to age and nationality restrictions and having been recently discovered by promoter Norman Granz, Granz encouraged the regular Carnegie pianist to pretend that he had injured his arm mid concert asking for help from the audience. Step forward Oscar Peterson and the rest was history.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 precautions, the jazz trio performed two equally excellent concerts that led James Pearson to comment “When I was asked to do an extra performance at 4, my jazz lifestyle made me think immediately the timing was to be 4am!”

But what concerts! Higginbottom set the rhythm throughout and offered several outstanding solos; Burgess maintained walking baselines constantly changing between plucking and bowing whilst Pearson, a truly creative tour de force, wowed with his incredible piano playing. The standing ovation was truly deserved.

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