by Mark Ira Kaufman
[…] But in terms of ability to play almost anything on the piano at a dizzying level of excellence, one American pianist stands above all others. You may have heard the name. But in all likelihood, his piano playing is beyond most piano playing you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve never heard a note he played, you’ve not heard one of the most proficient and musical pianists alive today.
His name is Peter Nero. For decades, he was the musical director of the Philly Pops Orchestra, which he created 34 years ago. While the Boston Pops is more famous, its inventiveness and variety of material is matched by the Philly Pops. Like its more famous compatriot, the Philly Pops plays orchestral versions of popular jazz, swing, Broadway songs and blues.
Peter-NeroThe Julliard-trained pianist recently retired from his post as its director. Still, the Philly Pops was Nero’s second ‘instrument.’ And he played it like a master. But outside Philadelphia, Nero will always be thought of as a pianist. And what a pianist he is.
Nero’s first album for RCA, Piano Forte, released in 1961, won a Grammy that year for “Best New Artist.” He received another Grammy and garnered ten more nominations. Nero’s association with RCA produced 23 albums in eight years. His subsequent move to Columbia Records resulted in a million-selling single and album, Summer of ’42.
In all, Nero has released nearly 70 albums.