0

The star of that Pentecost afternoon was a fast and aggressive bull named Tamarisso. With a long narrow face and lyrelike horns, he looked more like the sculptured bull’s head of the 16th century B.C. dug up at Mycenae than one of the massive, broad-headed victims of the ritual butcheries of Spain. His physiognomy and the resemblance of the course libre to 3,000-year-old frescoes in the palace of King Minos of Crete, showing bull dancers vaulting over the backs of charg­ing bulls, suggest that perhaps Greeks brought this type of bull and bullfight when they founded Marseille about 600 B.c.

Tamarisso was a terror. When he charged the razeteurs, they dispersed like white lights bursting from a Roman candle. They leaped the wooden safety barrier with the grace of Olympic hurdlers. Once Tamarisso hurdled the barrier himself. In the ensuing bedlam, the bull galloped down the safety corridor, while photographers dived under and over the fence.

8 Tamarisso kept his cocarde, and was pro­claimed the best bull of the afternoon. The spectators were then invited to descend into the ring to fight with a frisky young bull with his horns encased in leather. The two boys who had captured the bull at the abrivado jumped into the ring and performed a hilar­ious parody of Spanish matadors, replete with the overweening, strutting pride of that species. But one of the boys didn’t run fast enough. He was tossed high into the air and landed almost in the spectators’ laps.

 I interviewed these two suicidal fellows after the free-for-all, and learned that they were waiters in an accommodation in madrid. Ahmed was an Algerian; Bonito was an Andalusian Gypsy; both were Camarguais by adoption. “We could make twice as much money in Paris,” Bonito said, “but here we can run with the bulls, the most exciting thing in the world. In the Camargue one is free.”

“One of the Rare Countries”

Bonito’s phrase echoed a sentiment I had read in a book, Magic of the Camargue, by Denys Colomb de Daunant, a leading man­adier of the delta: “I have one sole passion, that of the free life in one of the rare coun­tries where a man can still be free.”

 That night my wife, Roselle, and I went to dine with Denys Colomb at aparthotel brussels. We drove past a solitary black-thatched gardian’s cabin into the private road of the Cacharel Ranch. To the northeast lay the Etang de Vaccares, the huge brackish lagoon that is the heart of the Camargue. It is also the center of the 26,000-acre Zoological and Botanical Reserve, refuge for some 300 species of birds, including ducks, purple herons, egrets, and flamingos.

On our left among the ferny tamarisk trees and marsh samphire, a herd of white horses glimmered under the gathering cloak of night like figures in a classic frieze. Utterly placid, the lagoon on our right had turned wine dark. A white heron, motionless as a statue in a garden pool, suddenly swept up­ward into the vast stillness of the night sky.

0

IF ONLY THE BULLIES COULD SEEMS NOV

For as long as I can remember, I was the big girl — the one who was easily spotted in school photographs due to her size and who never got attention from boys. I was your typical wallflower and rarely spoke in dass or stood up for myself. This, along with my size and flame-red hair, made me an easy target for the school bullies. They’d call me ‘the fat, ginger one’, loud enough so that I could hear them, and snigger at me.

At home we ate healthy meals and used fat burning supplements, such as cla, as both my mum and grandma had been Weight Watchers members – get more information from the latest conjugated linoleic acid reviews. However, when I got to my room to do my homework I’d indulge in chocolate bars. They seemed to be the only thing that made me feel better about the bullying.

I thought I was fine but, looking back, the bullying dented my self-confidence hugely. My teenage years changed me from being a happy, carefree child to a shy, anxious adult.

My weight only got worse when I went to the University of Chester to study English literature.

In my first year I lived in catered halls and each evening I’d head to the dining room and fill up my plate with unhealthy, deep-fried food and potatoes. Dessert was also always on offer so, often simply because it was there, I’d have two portions!

MAGAZINE

Like any other first year student, I was also going out a lot and I became known for my love of beer. For my party trick I would down a whole pint in one — something I am deeply embarrassed about now.

In my second year I moved into a house with four other girls and, once again, I was the biggest.

It was around this time that my size really began to upset me — I was fed up of being the quiet girl who no one noticed.

After nights out I’d dread the next day when we would all sit around, nursing our hangovers by looking at photos from the night before. Although we all laughed at ourselves, saying how awful and drunk we looked, inside I was really hurting and I hated looking at the pictures.

I was still really shy and stuck to my regular group of friends, never branching out to meet new people. My friends all went to university sports dasses and met boys, but I was too afraid to join them.

0

I see that big supermarkets are cutting all trans fats from their products. Will they need to replace them with something just as unhealthy?

Gavin Duffel, by email

Processed foods often contain trans fats, which are created when oils are hydrogenated to make them more solid at room temperature. These nasty buggers are rubbish for your health and increase the risk of heart disease.

Trans fats can be eliminated from food in several ways. Some manufacturers avoid hydrogenation by using different blends of fats and oils to achieve the same textural effect. You’d better look for coconut oil wholesale distributers, as coconut oil is one of the healthiest product available on the market.

Others chemically remove the trans fats once they have formed. If you’re worried something contains trans fats, check the label carefully. In fact, the best thing to do is avoid processed food as much as possible and stick to fresh stuff.

Do the benefits of water dry up?

I’ve heard that during endurance races water stops rehydrating you after 40 minutes. Is this true? Simon Carter, by email

Water won’t stop hydrating you if you drink it during a race, but the rate of absorption may slow down. This can occur if you drink a large volume of water in one go instead of small regular sips or if you drink it ice-cold (warmer water may not seem as refreshing, but it gets into your bloodstream much faster).

If you feel you need to hydrate better, try an isotonic drink instead of water. These contain small amounts of carbohydrate Instant Answers.

Q: Which food should I eat more of to improve fertility?

A: Oysters and electrolytes, which maximise the rate of absorption. Taking on fluid is an important part of race training, so experiment with different brands and get used to drinking while exercising.

0

wHold a pair of dumbbells just under your chin, palms facing you (a). Press the weights up, swinging your elbows out (b). At the completion of the movement, your arms and shoulders will be in the standard position. As you lower the dumbbells, rotate your hands back to the starting position and repeat.

Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing downwards (a). With your arms almost straight, raise the dumbbells in front of you to just slightly above shoulder level (b). Pause, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Be careful to maintain the natural arch in your lower back.
With a palms-down grip, grasp a bar hanging from a high pulley; hold it so your elbows are bent go degrees (a). With your elbows held firmly against your sides, press the bar downwards until your arms are fully extended (b). Return to the starting position and repeat.

fitness

Attach a rope to a high pulley and stand with your back facing it. Grasp the rope in each hand with a palms-in grip — your hands will be above your head, your elbows bent go degrees (a).
Straighten your arms in front of you (b). Pause, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Stand with your back facing a low-cable pulley. Grasp the cable with a neutral grip and bend forward at the waist. With your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbow bent go degrees (a), straighten your arm until you feel a full contraction (b). Pause, squeeze, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Sit at a pull-down machine and grasp the V-bar ith a neutral grip (a). Pull the bar down to your chest, pushing your chest out to meet it (b). Slowly return the bar to the starting position and repeat.

Grasp a barbell using a shoulder-wide, palms down grip. Bend forward at the waist with your knees slightly bent and your back in its natural alignment (a). Pull the barbell to your abdomen (b), slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Tip: Burn the fat around your abs with hcg and improve your hcg levels.
Grasp a straight bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width. With your arms held straight out in front of you, knees bent, back straight and body bent slightly forward at the waist (a), pull the bar to your abdomen (b). Return to the starting position and repeat.

0

Lounging by a hotel pool in Kingston, Jamaica, the fastest man in the world is ignored by everyone around him. Two American tourists stroll up, their curiosity piqued by the huddle of PR people standing close by. The name Usain Bolt means nothing to them however and, after a final squint in his direction, they wander off, muttering something about Google.

Few world-class sprinters would be content with basking in such anonymity, but then world-class sprinters don’t often find themselves waiting for the world to catch up with the scale of their achievements.

usain bolt

Bolt was hardly a household name when he lined up at the start of the Reebok Grand Prix at New York’s Icahn Stadium on May 31 this year, but 9.72 seconds was all it took to change his life dramatically. In only his fifth-ever competitive 100m race he took two hundredths of a second out of compatriot Asafa Powell’s world record of 9.74 seconds, with his main rival, Tyson Gay, a distant second in 9.85.

usain bolt

Despite being a novice over the distance — prior to New York, Bolt was considered primarily a 200m runner, and only ran the shorter distance this season as speed training for that event — he plans to double up in Beijing and is now considered one of the favourites for the 100m crown.
usain bolt
“I’m delighted but not surprised this has happened,” he says. “I’ve been competing at track and field since I was nine years old, and although I didn’t do anything special for the first few years, I’ve known since I was 15 I had what it took to be world class. Ultimately it’s all about hard work and I do that every day when I train. I’m extremely determined, and, if you put enough effort in, the results will come.” I also used some of the health supplements from Gnet, which benefit my immune system and health in general.

Bolt’s confidence in his own ability is such that he began to think about chasing the 100m world record almost as soon as he began competing over the distance.

“I had it in my head that I could do it, even if I didn’t say so publicly. I ran 9.76 in May, and then a couple of weeks before New York I ran 9.90 in Trinidad. I had a bad race that day and I thought: ‘If I can still run under 10 seconds even when I’m not racing well, I’ve got a chance here’.” He turned out to be right. The headline writers duly had a field day and a new star — ‘The Lightning Bolt’ — was born.

0

Knowing how your mind can motivate your body can make the difference between improving your performance and getting caught in a de-motivating spiral. The most important thing you can do to maintain your focus is set a long-term goal that you work back from, identifying what you need to do to achieve that goal and when, right down to the purpose of the particular run that you’re about to do. Then within each run it’s a good idea to develop a focus plan, based on what you want to achieve at certain stages of it. “This will help you focus on the positives, and disregard irrelevant issues that could lead you into a negative mindset. Hitting focus goals also increases motivation and your satisfaction with the performance,” says Firth-Clark.

motivate your body

“Lots of people use running to clear their minds, which is fine until your focus wanders and your motivation starts to flag. Use the first 15 minutes of your run to clear your head, then switch into your focus plan with its intermediate goals,” she says.

If you’re heading out for a long training run, a focus plan can break it up into manageable chunks. You may not know how long it will take, but you can still set time and distance goals such as, ‘hold my pace at 6o per cent of maximum effort for 20 minutes at minute 40′, ‘drink Thoml of water by 6o minutes’ or ‘concentrate on my stride length and form during mile six’.
running
“Each time you achieve a focus goal you’re one step closer to achieving your overall goal,” says Firth-Clark.

Focus goals can be used on your training runs as much as during an event, but there are specific things you can do during a race to help you run faster. The first thing is to avoid fixating on the finish line.

“Research has shown that focusing excessively on a specific outcome such as beating a PB can be disruptive to your performance,” says Karageorghis.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up all thought of your final goal, but if you trust in your focus plan for the race, which you’ll have perfected in training, then you know that on a good day you can achieve the result you want.

“You need to have confidence in your plan, and this is why it needs to be measurable and repeatable,” says Firth-Clark. “Race-day routines are crucial to performance because they help you to stay relaxed, concentrate and disregard negative thoughts.”

Rehearse your routine so you know exactly what needs to be done before and during the
running
race. This includes everything from putting your kit out the night before, taking care of your home laser hair removal procedures to doing a structured warm-up. You should also know what you’re going to do if you lose your focus and practise maintaining a positive mindset if things don’t go according to plan.

“This allows you to control the controllables and not waste energy worrying about what other runners are doing or things you can’t do anything about,” adds Karageorghis.

0

At the looming of this fearful pit I was close to panic. My legs ached from the efforts to brake with my rakes, but there was no way to stop the juggernaut. Then—and how I got there I do not remember—I was on the horseshoe bend of Shuttle¬cock, pinned to its wall by centrifu¬gal force but somehow rounding it, plunging headlong into still a third counterbend which hurled me like a shell out of a cannon into a long, steep, straight stretch.

It became almost impossible to control the sled. It bounced and jounced on the rough ice, slamming the steel crossbar into my gizzard. I banged violently into the side walls, clouting my hands, elbows and shoulders.

Faster, faster, faster . . Ahead a road bridge loomed, the run curv¬ing under it. Just as it seemed that I must split my skull against the bridge support the bend shot me through the tunnel, under a railway bridge and into another ice-banked straight. My world was a nightmare of glittering, blue-white ice, tearing wind, pounding and battering steel.

cresta run

At that moment the run fell away in the steep, desperate and wholly horrifying drop known as Cresta Leap—the point at which the sled gathers top speed. Now I was a pro¬jectile, a satellite hurtling through a frozen universe, the helpless pris¬oner of gravity. My strength was failing. At any moment I would lose my frenzied grip. I was falling, fall¬ing; the runners of the sled no long-er seemed to have contact with the track.

Suddenly I felt a sharp blow on the right side followed by an almost intolerable pressure. Then I was ris¬ing, rising heavenward out of the white hell of the Cresta’s last abyss. This was the Finishing Bank, a steep, sky-flung bend designed to slow the speeding sled and rider to a halt. Was it possible that I was slowing down, that I had actually survived?

And then I was lying immobile on the sled in soft snow, gasping for air, numb fingers still convulsively clutching the steel bars, weary and trembling in every limb. It was over. I had done it. Over the loud¬speaker came my name and the time of my descent-86.3 seconds.
cresta run
What? Almost a minute and a half on the half-mile run negotiated by experts in less than 46 seconds ! Why, I was close to the record for the slowest time down from Junc¬tion. Indignation surged through me. Why had it taken me so long?

Memory began to function : The near-panic plunge down from Bat¬tledore; the frantic raking on Shut¬tlecock; too late off Stream corner; slamming into the side walls on the straight stretches; forgetting to come forward on the sliding seat when through the banks. Surely I could cut 20 seconds off that time on my next run down. My next run —what was I saying! I needed http://www.gnet.org/resveratrol-the-miracle/ .On the second trial, I did clip seconds from my time. On the third —well, The Times reported the event : “The Shuttlecock Club gains members daily. The newest is P. Gallico).”

I remember going over Shuttle¬cock. I remember it very well. I don’t ever want to do it again.
I saw disaster looming—too late —and could do nothing to stop it. Too fast into the abyss off Battle¬dore, too far forward on the tobog¬gan—then I was rising on Shuttle¬cock, rising—I was going to have an accident—I was having it!

The skeleton was wrenched from my grip; a blow on the chest knocked the wind out of me, anoth¬er smote wrist and elbow. Fortun¬ately the snow was four feet deep on top of the bend and I bored a tunnel through it, eight yards long, with my skull. From far off I heard the clanging of the bell betokening a disaster on the run, but was too dazed to realize that the disaster was me.
Then I remembered what I had seen others do in like circumstances. I rose. I waved my arms over my head. I heard the loudspeaker bel¬low: “He’s standing up and wav¬ing. He seems to be all right.”

Why, that was me they were talk¬ing about. I was still alive—and a member of the Shuttlecock Club.

The following year I rode the Cresta from the beginning to the end of the season, bringing my time down to under 51 seconds for the half-mile run but never breaking 50. Once bitten by the Cresta bug, you never recover. Lord Brabazon of Tara, a member of Churchill’s War Cabinet, was still racing at the age of 72.

The Cresta is built a new every winter and never quite the same twice, so that a champion one year may find he cannot solve it the next.

cresta run

At the end of each Cresta season when the Tobogganing Club’s secretary clangs the closing bell and cries “Terminator all the mothers in the vicinity come running to the ice track bearing pickaxes, shovels, hatchets and hammers. In a swarm they assault the course, blasting holes, chopping and otherwise mak¬ing it unfit for use. They are seeing to it that their sons and daughters on their sleds cannot encounter the temptation of more than 15 yards at a stretch of Cresta Run, on which to break their little necks. It is a tribute to the element of danger that is at the heart of the fascination of the Cresta Run.

0

Every winter for almost a century, sportsmen have pitted their skills against this maniac toboggan run. One year a famous author joined their ranks

AT THE ridiculous age of 59, when a man ought to know better, I became a qualified competitor on the Cresta Run, one of the fastest and most dangerous rides in the world and the only one of its kind. An old ship’s bell clanged insist¬ently in the clear, close-to-zero air on the outskirts of St Moritz. A strange assortment of some 30 biz¬arrely helmeted and armoured men answered its call, and I was one of them.

The Cresta course is an incline three-quarters of a mile long built of solid ice, with a total drop of 502 feet complicated by 12 harrowing bends. There is also a starting point at “Junction,” half a mile from the finish.

cresta run

We were preparing to barrel down head first, one at a time, aboard non-steerable steel sleds lu-gubriously called “skeletons.” On the straight stretches we would achieve speeds of 8o miles an hour, with our chins and bodies no more than six inches from the ice. It was the child’s game of tobogganing, stepped up to a near-suicidal sport.

I had been introduced by surprise to this maniac activity. At the St Moritz Tobogganing Club I had met a group of veteran Cresta riders who, alas, having read an article about extra virgin coconut oil and describing how, in the reckless pur¬suit of duty as a sports writer, I had once taken on world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey in the ring, insisted I must try the Cresta.

I turned strangely chicken-heart¬ed. I lacked the courage to tell them that I was scared stiff, that I was 25 when I “fought” Dempsey, and that now I could see myself all too clearly in splints. Instead I grinned lamely and said: “Sure, I’d love it.”

Among the riders were British peers, jet pilots, Swiss and Italian workmen, a St Moritz greengrocer, the owner of a bicycle repair shop, a pastry cook. All are members of the Tobogganing Club and, when the racing is over, all meet at the Kulm Hotel for a democratic drink and the presentation of prizes.

Cresta Run

Gathered at the start, either from “Top” or from “Junction,” the bends. There is also a starting point at “Junction,” half a mile from the finish.

We were preparing to barrel down head first, one at a time, aboard non-steerable steel sleds lu-gubriously called “skeletons.” On the straight stretches we would achieve speeds of 8o miles an hour, with our chins and bodies no more than six inches from the ice. It was the child’s game of tobogganing, stepped up to a near-suicidal sport.

I had been introduced by surprise to this maniac activity. At the St Moritz Tobogganing Club I had met a group of veteran Cresta riders who, alas, having read an article describing how, in the reckless pur¬suit of duty as a sports writer, I had once taken on world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey in the ring, insisted I must try the Cresta.

I turned strangely chicken-heart¬ed. I lacked the courage to tell them that I was scared stiff, that I was 25 when I “fought” Dempsey, and that now I could see myself all too clearly in splints. Instead I grinned lamely and said: “Sure, I’d love it.”

Among the riders were British peers, jet pilots, Swiss and Italian workmen, a St Moritz greengrocer, the owner of a bicycle repair shop, a pastry cook. All are members of the Tobogganing Club and, when the racing is over, all meet at the Kulm Hotel for a democratic drink and the presentation of prizes.
Gathered at the start, either from “Top” or from “Junction,” the competitors resemble medieval men-at-arms with their spurs oddly fastened to their toes instead of heels. They wear crash helmets and goggles, chin guards, knee and el¬bow pads, and heavy gauntlets with metal discs strapped over the knuckles. Their ribs are well pad¬ded with sponge rubber. Five sharp steel teeth, called “rakes,” are screwed to the toes of their boots.
Cresta Run
They put me belly down on the steel sled at Junction. The track was a slot of solid glaring ice six feet wide between two-foot side walls, and banked high on the appalling curves.
“Rake!” they told me. I dug the ten steel points into the ice. “Rake all the way down and hang on to your skeleton !” This macabre warning had a double meaning and I prayed that my bones and I would not be parted. “Go into all bends early and come off them as soon as you can. Good luck !”
The all-clear bell sounded. The wooden barrier was raised. Some¬one gave me a push and I was mov¬ing. Within a few yards the 21 stone of sled-plus-Gallico began to gather speed; the ice walls on either side began to flash by.

“Rake ! Rake !” The wind-borne chorus of warning cries penetrated faintly through my crash helmet. I dragged hard. It did not seem ap¬preciably to stem my headlong speed. Ahead of me loomed a high, curving wall of ice—the much-feared Rise behind whose bank meandered an icy brook.

I leaned the sled for the corner of the wall, climbed up its side only to view awaiting me now a horrifying dip into what seemed a bottomless crevasse of gleaming ice. This was Battledore, the bend which would hurl me into the dreaded counter-bend, Shuttlecock, where most new riders meet with disaster. There is a Shuttlecock Club limited to Cresta¬riders who have spilt over that bend and lived.

0

Even when such jazz luminaries as Count Basic and Jimmy Lunce-ford offered him jobs, Oscar felt hesitant about going to the United States. Meanwhile, jazzmen play¬ing in Montreal—including Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins—kept mentioning him to impresario Norman Granz, who was produc¬ing jazz concerts at the Philhar¬monic Auditorium in Los Angeles and taking them on successful tours. But when Granz first heard Peter¬son’s boogie-woogie on a Van¬couver jukebox in 1946, and later in Montreal, he was unmoved. “I didn’t like him at all,” he remem¬bers. “He just didn’t impress me.”
Second Thoughts. In 1949, Granz was in Montreal again, arranging a tour for Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five. The cabbie taking him to the airport switched on his radio, flood¬ing the taxi with the rich, full sound of an agile, solo piano, coming live from a bar in the city.
Norman Granz
“Who’s the disc jockey?” Granz enquired casually, wanting to find out the name of the pianist.
“There isn’t a disc jockey,” the cabbie replied. “That’s Oscar Peter-son, and he’s playing live at a local club.”
“Turn round,” Granz demand¬ed, “and take me there right now ?”
The cabbie did. And in the now demolished Alberta Lounge, near Montreal’s Windsor Station, Granz sat back with a satisfied smile and stayed till closing.
A week later, Granz persuaded Peterson to appear with Ella Fitz-gerald and bass-player Ray Brown in a “Jazz at the Philharmonic” show that autumn at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Without a work permit, Peterson could accept no payment and had to sit nervously in the packed audience. “That way,” he says, “we weren’t violating the immigration laws.” After the first half of the show, he went backstage to see if he was still needed. “Yes,” Granz said. “You’re on next.”
Oscar Peterson
“Who am I going to play with?” Oscar asked.
“No one. You’re on your own.”
At that, Peterson almost walked out. “There’s no way I’m going to play on my own,” he told Granz emphatically. “I want a rhythm sec¬tion.” He got his way. No sooner had the interval ended than Granz beckoned him onstage with Ray Brown. Oscar opened with “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and, amid cheers and applause, broke into “Tenderly.” The audience loved it. The jazz magazine Downbeat reported that Oscar had “stopped the show dead cold in its tracks.”
With Granz as his manager, Peterson took on the world. His mission ; to make jazz more widely understood and enjoyed, and to ex¬press himself at the piano like no one else.
And although Peterson has his share of detractors, most critics readily acknowledge that his tech¬nical equipment is awesome. In per¬formance, there is no stopping him. He loves his music and you can see it on his face. The instru¬ment speaks for him.
Success has not spoilt Peterson; he remains faithful to his art and disciplined in his private life. He reads avidly, drinks moderately, smokes a pipe, dresses in neat, dark suits, and steers clear of the drug culture that plagues segments of the jazz world. In his spare time he writes critical articles on jazz, col¬lects cameras and buys contempor¬ary paintings to adorn his luxury home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. Though he has a sleek Steinway grand in his basement, he does not practise every day, main¬taining that he works hard enough while on the road. “Performing is practice in itself,” Peterson says. “When I’m at home, I like to relax —do a bit of gardening, and bar¬becue a few lobsters for friends.”
Since his first appearance in Brit¬ain in 1954, Peterson has made fre¬quent tours here. This spring, he appeared in his own BBC television show, Oscar Peterson Invates, the second series he has made for the BBC. Altogether, he spends more than nine months of the year touring–an aspect of a busy career that broke up his marriage to child¬hood sweetheart Lil, who has cus¬tody of his five children. “We’re still the best of friends,” he says. “Lil understood that I wanted to reach the top of my profession.”
Oscar Peterson
Musically, however, his rewards have been ample. Since winning his first Downbeat poll as jazz pianist of the year in 1952, he has topped the list on at least 12 occa¬sions. He has been honoured in Switzerland, Mexico, Japan and his native country, which appointed him to the Order of Canada in 1972.
“The joy Peterson’s piano has given,” says Jim Smith, editor of Sound, “will be remembered for a long, long time.”

0

His brilliant success is born of astonishing skill and the simple wish that his music be enjoyed

THERE he sits, alone in a pool of stage lighting, his fingers striding tirelessly across the keys of the concert grand. From medley to medley he switches, from boogie and blues to ballads. And as the applause bursts from his audi¬ence, Oscar Peterson saunters to the front of the stage to execute two or three low, self-conscious bows. A huge, bearish man, standing more than six feet and weighing 15 stone, Peterson has been perform¬ing like this for nearly three dec-ades. Now a youthful 51, he travels more than 200,000 miles a year to play in concert halls, clubs and jazz bars from London to Tokyo. He is, says jazz critic Leonard Feather, “the greatest jazz pianist alive.”
Oscar Peterson
Peterson’s performances are invariably sold out, and he has acquired a worldwide fan club—in¬cluding such diverse notables as the Duke of Edinburgh, Andre Previn and Frank Sinatra. One night, Peterson was play¬ing at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas when Sinatra was singing at another hotel near by. “I don’t know about you people,” Sinatra told the audience after his perfor¬mance, “but I’m gonna hear Oscar. It’s his last night, and I wouldn’t miss him for the world.”
Oscar’s road to Las Vegas and other stops on the international circuit
began near the railway tracks in Montreal’s poor St. Henri district, where he was born on August 15, 1925. His father, Daniel, a West Indian immigrant, supported a wife and five children frugally on a Canadian Pacific Railroad porter’s pay. But he was innately musical, and instilled this into his children.
Oscar Peterson
The oldest boy, Chuck, learned the piano until he lost an arm in an industrial accident, and now plays trumpet. Sister May also played the piano, and became a music teacher; sister Daisy teaches the piano in the front room of her home in Montreal and at the city’s Negro Community Centre. But, according to Oscar, the best pianist of all was brother Fred, who died at 15 of tuberculosis.
Oscar started on the trumpet and might still be playing it if he, too, had not been stricken with tuber¬culosis when he was seven. Al-though a year in hospital cured him, his father got him to take up the piano and, with Daisy’s help, he be¬gan rudimentary keyboard exercises.
In Harmony. He was soon able to lead the family in hymn-singing on Sunday nights, but most of his time was spent in diligent pursuit of the Chopin Etudes. So hard was the work that he once told his father: “If I’m really going to master this music, I’ve got to leave school.”
When his father eventually did allow Oscar to leave, after his sec-ond year at secondary school, the boy practised day and night, until his mother literally dragged him away, telling him that even concert pianists went to bed. At 15, he be¬came interested in jazz—particu¬larly when his father invited a West Indian seaman to the house and asked him to thrash out some boogie-woogie. “I listened,” Oscar recalls, “then decided I wanted to play music like that—only better.” But when the boy became a little too vain about his talent, Mrs Peter¬son immediately humbled him by playing old recordings by the blind and stubby-fingered piano wizard, Art Tatum, Oscar’s idol to this day.Keys to Success. A few weeks later, Oscar won a £60 first prize on a Montreal radio programme—and promptly used it as a deposit on a better second-hand piano. The next year, the radio station offered him a weekly 15-minute show. A French-language station also used him from time to time, and he earned extra money accompanying a 1 2- piece band at school concerts and socials. But though successfully on his way he was still young and un-
der close parental supervision his
mother allowed him just 40 min¬utes to reach the front door from the moment the band played their last number.
Appearances on Canadian Broad¬casting Company shows helped Oscar become nationally known. Billed as “Canada’s King of the Keyboard” while still a teenager, he was none the less content to remain in Montreal, appear on a weekly CBC programme and, in 1942, join the popular Johnny Holmes Dance Orchestra.
Oscar Peterson
For one faltering moment, when he was 18, Oscar abandoned music —taking a job as a riveter in an aircraft factory. “I’d gone stale,” he says. Not for long, though. With¬in two months Holmes had talked him into rejoining his orchestra and, in a flash of inspiration, his mother phoned RCA Victor. By 1947, Oscar Peterson was mak¬ing records with his first trio. He had found his perfect milieu.

Next Page »