Saturday Morning Media: Dick Cavett’s Oscar Peterson Interview

Entertainment value AND educational value is determined by presentation. 

Here’s Dick Cavett interviewing one of the all-time great jazz pianists, Oscar Peterson, back in 1979. 

They start with Peterson playing some music. This sets the stage. Literally and figuratively – if you don’t know his work, the performance is intended to show the audience we’re in the presence of a real artist. 

Then they transition to the couch. You have to be intrigued after the performance. You have to hear him talk, to feel him out as a conversationalist, and you want to let the master interviewer (Cavett) do his thing. 


Once Cavett has you thinking Peterson’s a mere mortal in conversation, he takes him back to the piano and continues the talk. And they don’t just chit-chat or make jokes. Cavett’s got Peterson displaying musical nuance and explaining it at an advanced level. Not dumbed-down. Not without profound respect for the art on display.

It works. 

It’s entertaining. It’s educational. And it’s all in the presentation. 

h/t to Rick Beato because I had never seen this. Check out the full clip and Beato’s summary here (Beato calls it the best music interview he’s ever seen, and says he bases his entire approach off of this!):