New film celebrates Montreal jazz legend Oscar Peterson

Barry Avrich’s new documentary about late Montreal jazz legend Oscar Peterson harkens back to the period of black and white tv but seeks to situate the legacy of the wonderful Canadian pianist firmly in the existing.

“There’s no needle in the arm, there’s no huge bouts of alcoholism. This was just an extraordinary musician who, as he states in the starting of the movie: ‘I came to participate in,'” said the filmmaker.

“There can be a wonderful tale about an artist with out the drama,” claimed Avrich.

Avrich describes Oscar Peterson: Black + White as a “docu-live performance”. It blends archival footage and preceding performances with live recordings of contemporary musicians interpreting Peterson’s do the job, which Avrich shot in February.

He says the film arrived with each other at breakneck speed, the exact same way Peterson’s fingers moved throughout the keys of a piano.

“I made this documentary in just about 7 months,” Avrich reported. “And his music pace and the way he played practically dictated the rate of how immediately I appeared to go in building the film.”

View | The trailer for Oscar Peterson: Black + White


The producer, director and filmmaker suggests although pandemic constraints presented some issues, they also freed up some more substantial names for attribute interviews.

“I was lucky that during COVID these stars were not touring still,” reported Avrich.

“Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis and Jon Batiste … Billy Joel, we achieved out to [him on a Friday] and he explained, ‘Sure! How about Tuesday?”

Avrich lives in Toronto but was born and raised in Montreal. He suggests he fell in enjoy with Peterson’s new music even though sifting via his parents’ history collection as a youngster.

“I kind of identified these albums in the basement, in this teak cabinet that my parents had,” he explained.

“My pals were listening to Boston, Styx, Dire Straits and Supertramp … I liked that, far too, but jazz was a distinctive journey.”

LISTEN | Barry Avrich on his new documentary about Oscar Peterson

Let us Go9:31Montrealer will make documentary about Oscar Peterson

There is a new documentary coming out Friday about Montreal Jazz musician Oscar Peterson… We are going to speak to the filmmaker guiding it. 9:31

One more important aspect of Avrich’s film is the background of racial injustice and the effects segregation in the United States experienced on Peterson as a Black man travelling to carry out south of the border.

When the documentary premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) before this month, Canadian gospel and blues singer Jackie Richardson was on hand to sing Hymn to Freedom, Peterson’s ode to the civil rights’ movement of the 1960’s.

“[Hymn to Freedom] was Oscar’s composition about experiencing racial prejudice and discrimination touring in the United States,” said Avrich, “and I needed that track in the film to show that issues definitely have not transformed.”

In the end nevertheless, Avrich suggests the documentary is an expression of love.

“It really is a adore letter to Oscar, a love letter to my mom and a really like letter to Montreal,” he mentioned.

“You can see so much of Montreal in the beginning of this movie… as Oscar kind of evolves ahead of he leaves Montreal, and that, to me, is my roots.”

Barry Avrich’s most current documentary looks at the everyday living of Oscar Peterson, his rise to fame as a environment renowned jazz pianist and the long lasting effects he had on his peers. (Nigel Hunt/CBC)