Written by
Bob Stumpel

November 12

Ray Charles Ft. In Oscar Peterson Very Special (1976)

'76 TV Peterson

In the 1970s Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson toured a lot together in Europe, where Norman Granz was their impresario.
The Montreal Gazette from 17 September 1976 (probably published shortly after the actual taping) had a brief article stating that The Oscar Peterson Superspecial “was more lively an hour of fine jazz piano trio and big band music with guests Ray Charles and impresario Norman Granz contributing as well. Peterson talks a bit and plays a lot in the course of this show.”

Concert portions were videotaped at the Minkler Auditorium (Seneca College); other tunes in a CBC studio.
Other than suggested by the clips and photos in this article, the show was taped in color. The program was directed by by Ron Meraska.

The show was aired by CBC on 14 November 1976, under the title Oscar Peterson: Very Special.

Oscar and Ray performing together in Toronto in September 1976.Photo by Bill Smith.  

Ray Charles and the band performed a flawless version of Then We’ll Be Home (Sadies Tune), and Ray and Oscar together played Blues For Big Scotia, which – including the intro from Nat King Cole’s Sweet Lorraine – was part of Ray’s live repertoire since 1973:


Then We’ll Be Home (Sadies Tune):

The CBC Archive database (IDs B-01435, B-01947, D-007786) adds some more information:

Canadian Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson hosts a music special that is filmed before an audience in the Minkler Auditorium at Seneca College.
Guests are Ray Brown (double bass), Herb Ellis (guitar), Louis Bellson (drums), Zoot Sims and Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis (tenor saxophones), Roy Eldridge and Clark Terry (trumpets), the Rick Wilkins Orchestra, and special guest, American singer Ray Charles.
Music producer and Peterson’s manager Norman Granz introduces the show, which pays tribute to the musical influences in Peterson’s life including Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington.
Highlights include ‘Liza’ (Peterson playing solo); a few bars of  ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ (Peterson); ‘Sweet Lorraine’ (Peterson sings and plays with Kessel and Brown); ‘Take the A Train’ (Peterson, Terry, Davis, Sims, Eldridge, Bellson with Rick Wilkins Orchestra); ‘Million Dollars of My Own’ [i.e. Then We’ll be Home (Sadies Tune), BS] (Charles); a blues number (Charles, Peterson and orchestra) [this was Blues For Big Scotia, BS]; an unidentified selection (Peterson, Brown and Ellis); Rick Wilkins’ arrangement of Place St. Henri from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite (Peterson and band); Tenderly (Peterson and Brown); a recreation of a Jazz At The Philharmonic jam session with Granz introducing the band who play a fast tempo blues (Peterson and guests); and a closing number Lovely Way To Spend An Evening (Peterson trio). Also, Peterson and Granz talk about how they met and Granz’s involvement in Peterson’s career. Wilkins’ group includes Gary Morgan, Jerry Toth, Eugene Amaro, Moe Koffman (saxophones); Rob McConnell, Butch Watanabe (trombones); and Guido Basso, Arnie Chycoski (trumpets).

The program is described as an episode of the CBC Superspecial series. The same catalog shares an other fabulous Peterson piece (Back Home Again In Indiana) from this show (watch here).

This photo (also by Bill Smith) is from a rehearsal for the same show.

How Peterson remembered Charles (interview for CBC, 2004):

Read more on Oscar and Ray here, here and here.  


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