Saturday, January 20, 2018

Inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival to Honor Norman Granz Legacy

The Inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival takes place during the weekend of February 16 - 18, 2018 with venues are in the historic Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and nearby City of St. Catharines in the Niagara Wine Country. Spearheaded by Artistic Director, the celebrated jazz pianist Renee Rosnes, the world’s first (and only!) jazz festival bearing the name of Canada’s greatest jazz artist will honor and celebrate the great pianist's legacy of excellence. This Festival is not intended to simply present concerts in tribute to Oscar Peterson, but rather to truly present jazz, showcasing the rich history and the future of the music Oscar loved. In addition to Artistic Director Rosnes, the festival is led by Artistic Producer Kelly Peterson, and Executive Producers Christine Mori and Alexis Spieldenner of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts.

Cecile McLorin Salvant performing "John Henry." 

The 2018 Festival will be dedicated to Norman Granz, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. “Impresario, record producer, civil rights activist, and founder of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz is arguably the most important non-musician in jazz history," said Kelly Peterson, noting his use of jazz concerts to attack racial discrimination. Jazz at the Philharmonic (“JATP” as it was known) was a series of all-star jam-session-style concerts that began in 1944 when Granz presented a concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. The first to present jazz in concert halls, giving it the same respect as classical music, he made it a contractual obligation for there to be no segregation in the concert venues, leading the charge against discrimination long before the Civil Rights Movement began. Granz himself said, “The whole reason for Jazz at the Philharmonic was to take it to places where I could break down segregation and discrimination.”

Jimmy Greene's performing "Beautiful Life” with Javier Colon singing on The Meredith Vieira Show. This was the title track of his Grammy nominated album hich is dedicated to his late daughter, Ana Marquez-Greene, one of the victims of the Dandy Hook School Shootings. 

Friday night, February 16, they will present an International All-Star "Jazz at the Philharmonic" with multiple GRAMMY Award and Jazz Poll winners, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Greene, Michael Dease, Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Kenny Washington. They will be performing in a JATP style program at the Festival’s all-star opening night event at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, in St. Catharines. Saturday afternoon, the historic 1792 St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be the venue for screenings on Saturday afternoon of two documentaries produced by Norman Granz (one of which, "Jammin’ the Blues," was nominated for an Oscar), as well as a JATP concert film. Tad Hershorn, jazz archivist and Granz biographer, will moderate, along with Jacques Muyal, long-time associate of Granz.

The Christian McBride Trio of a few years ago, with pianist Christian Sands on piano and Ulysses Owens on drums.
Saturday evening will bring a Gala affair to Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Double Portrait, the piano duo of the Festival’s Artistic Director Renee Rosnes, the 5-time JUNO Award-winning pianist, and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Bill Charlap. The post-concert Gala Reception includes hors d'oeuvres by Chef Horne of Canoe Restaurant, Stratus wine, and Soma chocolate. The Festival concludes on Sunday at Stratus Vineyards with its grand finale, featuring Canadian artists Carol Welsman, Kevin Turcotte, Mike Murley, Robi Botos, Dave Young, and Jim Doxas in another Jazz at the Philharmonic-style concert. Sunday afternoon’s event will also feature the premiere presentation of the newly created Canadian Jazz Master Awards.

Carol Welsman seen performing "Fly Me To The Moon."

The Festival's website is and the email address is They are on Facebook at, the twitter feed is @opjazzfest and the instagram link is @oscarpetersonjazzfest.

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