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A Great Day in Harlem (1995)

Dizzy Gillespie , Milt Hinton , Jean Bach  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

List Price: $24.99
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Product Details

  • Actors: Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Hinton, Marian McPartland, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan
  • Directors: Jean Bach
  • Writers: Jean Bach, Matthew Seig, Susan Peehl
  • Producers: Matthew Seig, Stuart Samuels, Terrell Braly
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: January 3, 2006
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BVNS7U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,506 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Great Day in Harlem" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

In August of 1958, in front of a Harlem brownstone, first-time photographer Art Kane assembled 57 of the greatest jazz stars of all time and snapped a picture that would live forever. Narrated by Quincy Jones, this "irresistible" (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times), Academy Award-nominated documentary examines the fascinating lives of the musicians who showed up that day to make history. Through remarkable interviews with nearly 30 jazz greats (including Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey), home movies shot by Milt and Mona Hinton, and rare, archival performance footage, A Great Day in Harlem tells the story behind a legendary photograph that is still alive and kicking - and jammin'!

Hours of New Special Features! "Art Kane" Featurette "Bill Charlap and Kenny Washington" Featurette "Copycat Photos" Featurette "Stories from the Making of A Great Day in Harlem" Featurette PLUS: Bonus 2nd Disc Includes Over Two Hours of New Video Profiles of the 59 Musicians involved in the photograph!


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Documentary January 4, 2006
Format:DVD
In 1958, photographer Art Kane (on his first photographic assignment) assembled a group of legendary Jazz musicians on the steps of a brownstone on 124th Street and Madison Avenue in Harlem for a group photograph. The photo was to appear in a special edition of Esquire magazine. The result is one of the most famous photographs taken in the 20th century. This film tells the story of the photo, the photographer and many of the musicians who took part in the project.

Getting that many jazz musicians together at eleven o'clock in the morning was trickier than you might think - most of the participants were usually sleeping at that hour, as many by trade were working in nightclubs until the wee hours of the morning. Indeed, some of the musicians who were invited failed to show up, either unable to commit themselves to awakening at such unaccustomed hours or misunderstanding the depth of the project completely.

There are wonderful interviews with some of the original musicians, notably Art Blakey and Dizzie Gillespie, but a number of other musicians are heard from as well, including trumpeter Buck Clayton, singer Marian McPartland and the great saxophone player, Gerry Mulligan. The participants in the photo are a veritable who's who of Jazz; some of the musicians include Red Allen, Buster Bailey, Count Basie, Lester Young, Maxine Sullivan, Stuff Smith, Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Rushing, Sonny Rollins, Theolonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Gene Krupa, Max Kaminsky, Jo Jones, Milt Hinton, Art Farmer, Vic Dickenson, Lawrence Brown, Coleman Hawkins, J. C. Heard and Oscar Pettiford. The surviving musicians interviewed for the film offer fascinating comments on their peers.

The film notes sadly that many of the musicians in the photo are no longer with us.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure jazz history February 8, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This DVD set is a fine production in every way. This is not strictly a "music" DVD; it's a historical work about the people and their lives and experiences. There's some Monk performance footage that's fantastic. And interviews with Blakey, Rollins, Hinton, Mulligan, et al are pure jazz history.

The first disk shows Jean Bach's excellent film; the second contains bios, archival pix and film clips of everybody in the picture. The second disk is quite a bonus--it's over 3 hours long and is very informative!
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great little film February 27, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
In preparation for the onslaught of Ken Burns' 19-hour PBS juggernaut I looked at a few enjoyable, well-made, BRIEF jazz documentaries recently. A Great Day In Harlem is perhaps the most entertaining. You wouldn't think that such a fine film could be made about such a seemingly slight subject----a 1958 Esquire photo of as many jazz musicians as they could scare up at the ungodly hour of ten in the morning. But at least two factors help make the film good, even great: First, it's no longer than it needs to be; only an hour. Second, they got in touch with as many of the surviving subjects of the photo as possible, letting the jazz musicians themselves talk about the occasion. Simple things, but they work. Several of the musicians who talk in this film have since passed away, Dizzy Gillespie for one, making it all the more treasurable. It also reminds one of what a time the 50's were in jazz---modernists of several stripes were already working, many of the original boppers were still around, and major figures of the 30's and even the 20's were still on the scene. I'll stop short of calling it a rich tapestry, but to see it exemplified in this amazing photo (and home movies too!) is kind of breath-taking.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A Great Day" is just great. March 14, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of classic jazz, this dvd is a great investment. Loaded with interviews and reminiscing about the most famous photo in jazz, the film is an essential. The extras are entertaining and enlightening. The coolest thing about the dvd are the home movies (in color) taken at the photo shoot and the "point and click" about each person in the photo. Awesome for the schooled jazz fan or those wanting to learn.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Day in Harlem February 25, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a snapshot of a time when giants roamed the earth and moved musical mountains with the wave of a hand. This documentary tells the background story of how a wonderful portrait of some of the world's greatest jazz musicians was made in Harlem in 1958. It contains film footage from the actual photo shoot as well as interviews, conducted in the nineties, with several of the musicians who were in the photograph including Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin and others. Musicians and jazz fans will enjoy this piece of musical history.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great day in history July 4, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The brainchild of an Esquire magazine art director led to this wonderful moment in our cultural and national history -- almost 60 jazz musicians gathered on 120th Street in Harlem in 1958 for a photograph. This video draws on the memories of some of those who were there: Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Marian McPartland, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan, Milt Hinton, Bud Freeman among them -- to recreate the moment. Lots of film footage of the gathering and many touching moments are included, from Count Basie sitting on the curb with the neighborhood youngsters to Thelonious Monk's surprise showing -- late as usual. This was a monumental task, getting 60 jazz musicians to gather at 10 a.m., the equivalent of 4 a.m. in our world, and they did it! This video needs to be re-released, now if not sooner, for all of us who love jazz or want to learn more about its practitioners.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A touch of history for jazz lovers...
Getting all these great heroes of jazz together...at 10 in the morning!!! (one great quote from this loving documentary, "Some of these folks didn't know there were TWO 10... Read more
Published 2 months ago by vincent lombardi
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Expanded Version
The photo in this ad says you will get the expanded version with the original dvd and the 2nd dvd including extended interviews with jazz luminaries. THAT IS FALSE. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Suzanne N. Brady
1.0 out of 5 stars not very good
Didn't get a clear picture of what was going on during the time. Should have set the story and interviews. Just a bunch of old guys talking about the gathering in Harlem. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jon hill
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary account of a historic moment in Jazz history
This is a must-have for any person that's a Jazz fan, whether young or not-so-young. The anecdotes of some of those musicians who were there, are fascinating.
Published 6 months ago by Ramon
2.0 out of 5 stars Great photo
This DVD has a selective audience and something to share with multiple friends.
As you can tell, it is an old film and not "slick" as current disks. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dorothy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Day in Harlem Poster
One of our Jazz Camp volunteers saw this poster displayed on the board at the jazz camp and wanted to know where we purchase this poster from. Read more
Published 7 months ago by H. Shelton
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
This poster went way above my expectations!! I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a lover of jazz!!
Published 8 months ago by Ashley Norskog
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Great Day in Harlem
Wonderful photo, great doco. If you like jazz and jazz lore, it's a great time to be had. Extras are good too.
Published 9 months ago by Big N
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of "A Great Day in Harlem"
I saw the poster about 10 years ago and always wondered about the story surrounding it. There is so much history in the video. It is an excellent educational resource! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bevadine Z. Terrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Art Kane's "Great Day In Harlem" comes to life
As a jazz aficionado, I have always been fascinated by Art Kane's 1958 photograph... so many outstanding jazz artists in one place! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Robert Brown
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