Oscar Peterson documentary set to premiere at TIFF

The new Oscar Peterson documentary directed by Barry Avrich will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Oscar Peterson: Black + White is billed as a “docu-concert,” featuring rare concert footage as well as interviews with family members and musicians who performed with Peterson.

The feature-length film will debut on Sept. 12 as part of the TIFF Docs lineup, followed by a limited theatrical release by Cineplex.

For now, you can watch the trailer to get a first look.

Raised in Montreal, Peterson is one of Canada’s most honoured musicians and widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time.

In a career lasting more than 60 years, he released more than 200 recordings, won seven Grammy Awards — as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy — and played thousands of concerts around the world. Among his best-known works are Hymn to Freedom, which became an anthem of the civil-rights movement, and his seminal albums Night Train and Canadiana Suite. Peterson died in 2007.

Oscar Peterson: Black + White, first announced in March, will trace Peterson’s ascent into the upper echelons of jazz royalty, while also focusing on the racism he faced throughout his career and the mentorship he provided to younger musicians.

The documentary will feature interviews and performances by artists who were influenced by Peterson’s music, including Quincy Jones, Jon Batiste, Ramsey Lewis, Billy Joel, Dave Young, Larnell Lewis, Jackie Richardson, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Robi Botos, Measha Brueggergosman, Joe Sealy, Stu Harrison, Denzal Sinclaire and Daniel Clarke Bouchard.

“It is beyond thrilling to celebrate, reimagine and get lost in the genius of Oscar in an era where icons are often forgotten when we need them the most,” Avrich told Deadline. “We are very proud of Oscar truly being one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world.”

The film is the product of Avrich’s production house Melbar Entertainment Group. It will be produced by Avrich and Mark Selby with executive producers Avrich, Jeffrey Latimer and Randy Lennox. Peterson’s widow, Kelly Peterson, is also serving as a consulting producer.


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