Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich has started production on a feature documentary on the late Montreal-raised jazz legend Oscar Peterson.
A news release from Avrich’s Melbar Entertainment Group says Kelly Peterson, the widow of the virtuoso pianist, will act as consulting producer on “Oscar Peterson: Black and White.”
The film is billed as a “docu-concert” and will include archival concert footage as well as interviews with family members and musicians who played with the Grammy winner, who died in 2007 at the age of 82 in Mississauga, Ont.
It will also feature new performances from artists playing Peterson’s music, including Dave Young, Larnell Lewis, Jackie Richardson, Robi Botos, and Measha Brueggergosman.
Melbar says the doc will explore Peterson’s life and acclaimed career, from his artistic influence and mentorship of other artists, to the racism that he endured and his legacy as “an uncompromising musician with a sense of racial pride.”
The film is set for a release in the fall and comes on the heels of the release of Historica Canada’s Heritage Minute on Peterson.
“It is a privilege and career highlight for me to tell Oscar’s inspiring story and further immortalize his relentless yet iconic music in this film,” said Avrich, a Canadian Screen Award-winning producer and director behind scores of live TV specials and documentaries, including last year’s “The Howie Mandel Project.”
Peterson dazzled audiences with his piano playing around the world and worked with a jazz giants including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole.
His 1962 composition “Hymn to Freedom” became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, while his 1964 recording “The Canadiana Suite” was in honour of his home country.
Avrich and Mark Selby will produce the doc. Avrich will also executive produce, alongside Jeffrey Latimer and Randy Lennox.
Other musicians who will perform in the film include Joe Sealy, Stu Harrison, Denzal Sinclaire, and Daniel Clarke Bouchard.
“It is gratifying that Oscar’s legacy continues to resonate and inspire music lovers and musicians everywhere,” said Kelly Peterson.
“I am delighted that this documentary will capture his story, his journey and his place in music history now, and forever.”