‘Oscar Peterson: Black + White’ on Hulu spotlights legendary jazz pianist | black history month

NEW YORK — As part of the Black History Month celebration, Sandy Kenyon takes a look at a jazz giant who was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, but came to write a struggle anthem for Civil Rights in the United States.

The late pianist Oscar Peterson is the subject of a new streaming documentary on Hulu called “Oscar Peterson: Black + White.”

Kenyon said he would always be grateful to have been able to see Peterson at the Birdland club in New York before the musician died in 2007. He had suffered a stroke and started off slow, but by the third or fourth issue he played with incredible power and soared. greatness for an unforgettable performance.

“I’m a jazz pianist,” Peterson liked to say. “That’s all I want to be.”

This modestly stated goal brought both a tremendous legacy.

“I had no idea music could be played so fast off the top of your head,” says Billy Joel in the new film.

“Oscar Peterson is what Muhammed Ali meant to boxing and what Michael Jordan meant to basketball,” said Ramsey Lewis, who is also a legendary jazz pianist.

The film’s director, Barry Avrich, was asked what he learned about Peterson while making the film.

“I was amazed at how generous he was to his fellow musicians, it was never ‘The Oscar Peterson Show,'” Avrich said.

Lewis added that “he was a musician’s musician, but at the same time, the average person loved the way he sent the piano keys out into the audience and said, ‘Now get this, feel this. “”

Never was the feeling more powerful than when Peterson composed his “Ode to Freedom” which “became the anthem of the civil rights movement in the United States and around the world,” said historian Rosemary Sadler in the documentary.

Peterson wrote the melody after enduring harsh racism while touring the South, and it has stood the test of time. In fact, a choir performed the tune during President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

“It’s called an anthem,” Lewis said. “But there’s music for the soul. There’s music for the mind and there’s music for the body. It’s a great job.”

Even if you’re not a big fan of jazz music, this new documentary will entertain and enlighten you. It now airs on Hulu, owned by the same parent company as that station.

READ ALSO | Great musician Louis Armstrong’s brand in the New York borough continues to grow

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