Ed Thigpen died yesterday. He was the drummer on so many of those great Oscar Peterson records. Together with Ray Brown, they defined what the Jazz trio should sound like.
Tonight at dinner, I played their record with Ben Webster, but I can’t find that online, so go check these out instead:
I recently read Wynton Marsalis’ book Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change You Life. I recommend it if you want to know what Jazz is about. The amazing thing about groups like Oscar Peterson’s trio is the way the performers are listening to each other and can respond and change directions instantly. The skill and attention which are required to be able to do that just staggers me.
There was an interesting paper recently where they placed Jazz musicians in an MRI while they improvised and measured what parts of their brains were active when they did this. This is your brain on jazz.
Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus) has a remembrance of Ed on his blog. It includes a link to his earlier article about why he didn’t like Oscar Peterson’s work, esp. the stuff he did with Thigpen. I’m not sure I agree with it, but it is certainly the most thoughtful critique of OP’s work that I’ve read.
I’ve always felt that the negative comments about OP’s playing had more to do with the internal politics of the jazz world than anything else. It always seemed to me that his obvious strengths outweighed that and put the onus on the critiquer to provide something more substantial. Ethan’s article is the best attempt I’ve seen at that.