Joe Castro, Piano, 1927, Miami, AZ
By the time Joe was fifteen years old he was playing professionall in the Pittsburgh, California area where he grew up. He performed with an army band during his military servicearound 1945, and after his discharge he formed his own trio which performed mainly on the West Coast and in Hawaii. Later he worked with the singers Anita O'Day and June Christy. In the late '50s he joined Teddy Edwards with whom he recorded, first as a sideman and then as a leader of the group. Around 1960-63 Castro worked as the music director for the popular singer Tony Martin. From the late 1960s, he played what is considered commercially-oriented music, accompanied various singers, and worked as a sideman with pit bands for shows in Las Vegas. During the 1980s Joe rarely performed as a jazz musician. Castro is considered a fine bop pianist, with a highly distinctive chordal style of his own.
Oscar Peterson, Piano, 1925, Montreal, Canada
Oscar studied classical piano from about the age of six, and when he was in his early teens he won a local talent contest. During his teens, in the early '40s, he played on a weekly radio show in Montreal with Johnny Holmes, a popular orchestra leader in Canada at that time. Oscar's main early influences were Teddy Wilson, Nat Cole and Art Tatum. Norman Grantz invited Oscar to play at Carnegie Hall in a Jazz At The Philharmonic concert in 1949, and from that time on he also managed Peterson's career. Around 1952 Oscar formed a trio using the combination of piano, bass, and guitar. One of the most popular groups he ever had was with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis, which remained together from 1953 until 1958. Eventually the guitarist was dropped, and replaced with a drummer, Ed Thigpen. This group was generally considered to be the ideal vehicle for Peterson's unique talents. In 1960 Peterson, Thigpen, and Brown founded the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, a school he directed for three years. In the early '70s he decided to concentrate on solo performances. Since the mid '70s Oscar has performed with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe, and has worked with prominent jazz musicians for a number of memorable performances, many of them recorded by Grantz. Peterson is one of the most prolific recording artists in jazz, at times issuing as many as 5 or 6 albums a year. Because of his extraordinary technique, Oscar is often compared with Art Tatum, with whom he shares a gift for inspiring awe from musicians, critics, and listeners alike.