Oscar Peterson festival brings true jazz to Ontario
— Peter Goddard, The Globe and Mail

February 15-17, 2019

The second edition of the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival promises another exciting weekend of true, swinging jazz in picturesque Niagara wine country.

Stay tuned! The artist lineup will be announced in November.

Led by Artistic Director Renee Rosnes, a 5-time JUNO Award-winning, celebrated jazz pianist, Artistic Producer Kelly Peterson, and Executive Producer Bravo Niagara!, the world’s first (and only!) jazz festival bearing the name of Canada’s greatest jazz artist will honour and celebrate his 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. 

"This was that kind of jazz festival - the Bordeaux-sipping, dreamy ballads kind, something of lovely social fantasy not far in spirit from that evoked by the "dear gentle folk of Newport," as sung in That's Jazz by Bing Crosby in the 1956 film High Society. In broader terms, here was a reminder of jazz's golden afterglow in the 1960s and early 70s, when the music still made money, when compact festivals from Newport, R.I., to Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera, were well-curated at the start."

-Peter Goddard, The Globe and Mail

Norman Granz and Jazz at the Philharmonic

The first annual Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival took place February 16-18, 2018 in the Niagara Region of Ontario and was 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, Artistic Producer of the festival. “The role that Norman played in presenting jazz cannot be underestimated. The role he played in breaking down racial barriers, however, was his proudest accomplishment.”

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.”

A grand festival to celebrate the genius of Oscar Peterson
— Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Photography by Alex Heidbuechel