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Oscar Peterson: Black + White

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Canada · 2021
1h 21m
Director Barry Avrich
Genre Documentary

This documentary analyzes the life and legacy of jazz icon and composer Oscar Peterson. Through concert and archival footage and interviews with friends and admirers, Peterson's sound, stardom, and career are explored in depth, from his humble beginnings in Canada to the end of his touring career in 2007, only months before his death.

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The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Brad Wheeler

With his elegant bio-doc Oscar Peterson: Black + White, director Barry Avrich discreetly (perhaps too discreetly) sniffs around the question of Peterson’s legacy and whether he truly received the respect he deserved in his lifetime.


The New York Times by Calum Marsh

“Black + White” does feature plenty of Peterson’s music, including several cover renditions performed in tribute for the film by a contemporary ensemble. But at almost every opportunity, Avrich undermines these numbers by cutting to one of an endless lineup of talking heads, usually to repeat predictable platitudes about Peterson’s brilliance.

50 by Ciara Wardlow

There’s enough here in the sheer wealth of material that fans of Peterson’s or jazz could find this documentary worth the runtime. But it’s unfortunate that Avrich and his team were not able to shape this material into an overall stronger narrative.


Wall Street Journal by John Anderson

As noted in the thoroughly entertaining Oscar Peterson : Black + White, the jazz giant never seemed to struggle, not musically: He arrived on the scene “fully formed,” someone notes, a technical wonder, a master of swing who reigned over the jazz keyboard for 60 years.

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