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Jazz on a Summer's Day

4.7 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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(Mar 14, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

1958 Newport Jazz Festival highlights: Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, George Shearing Quintet, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day.

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Part concert documentary, part pop-cultural time capsule, Bert Stern's Jazz on a Summer's Day chronicles the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with an approach as deceptively relaxed, even impulsive, as the music itself. Still photographer Stern sidesteps more formal documentary conventions such as narrative voiceovers to wander purposefully from festival stage to boarding-house jam sessions, taking in the parallel color and motion of the America's Cup preparations when he isn't capturing rich color footage of the performances and the celebratory mood of the concertgoers. In the process, he documents American jazz at a notably golden moment in its development--diverse, adventurous, and still broadly popular, this was jazz not yet under the shadow of rock and youth culture, played by an integrated artistic community a few short years away from social and political turmoil that would boil divisively to the surface during the '60s. To say Stern was rolling film in a jazz Camelot is overstatement, but only slightly so.

Stern's circular approach and wonderful eye achieve a breezy languor at the expense of more comprehensive coverage of the festival's bumper crop of strong jazz, blues, and gospel musicians. Perhaps inevitably, the camera lingers on Louis Armstrong, Anita O'Day, Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, and George Shearing. Avid fans of later styles may be frustrated by the fleeting glimpses of other musicians such as Eric Dolphy and Art Farmer, or the honor roll of classic jazz stylists whose Newport sets weren't included in the film, but such omissions seem forgivable, if not necessary, to Stern's serendipitous design. --Sam Sutherland


Special Features

  • Multifunctional Chapter Access To: Live Performances, Reflections of the Stars, 1958 America's Cup, Complete Festival Playlist, and more!
  • A Summer's Day: Follow Bert Stern on an interactive journey behind the scenes of Jazz on a Summer's Day
  • Weblinks

Product Details

  • Actors: Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, Thelonious Monk, Anita O'Day, Dinah Washington
  • Directors: Aram Avakian, Bert Stern
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: March 14, 2000
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003OSU4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,623 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jazz on a Summer's Day" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Contrary to some comments on this list, this film is not a documentary or concert film. It is a visionary work of art. It's like Robert Franks' book THE AMERICANS coming to life. If you don't know what that is about, see for yourself. This is the America that Kerouac loved. And if you don't know what that means, find out before it's too late.
This film is really about a summers day in America in 1958. As a musician, a Jazz lover, a poet and a film buff, this film is the best of all worlds. It is pure poetry. It is like seeing the world through Kerouac's heart-filled eyes. Eyes we all have, but forget in our daily malaise. Notice the minute particulars, the spontaneous nature of life. Speaking of Beats, if you look real close you can see Gregory Corso in a couple of audience shots.
Jazz on a Summers day is about time and place. It freezes a moment in time and makes it eternal. A time when jazz was common music of american culture. A summers day when people living in the cold war and the Eisenhower era kick off their shoes and truly live. It is filled with moments of deep sighs, AH. Like, the shot of the young girl singing along with Satchmo, if that's not art I don't know what is. The performers too, Mahalia Jackson is a great bodhisattva/angel. The cinematography is vibrant. You've never seen the fifties this real.
I actually love the parts that digress from the festival. Even though I regret not seeing all of Monk. But it's still magnanimous, and contrary to another comment, the stage announcer that says Monk is "unconcerned" should be understood as Monk is on a different level. He makes music for different reasons. If you don't what that means, just listen. Monk will whisper to you in a dream.
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Format: DVD
I live in Gloucestershire, England and could not find this DVD in UK. Thanks to Amazon and the Web, my copy arrived in (...)days! I first saw this wonderful film many years ago and I remember how it affected me. A passion for jazz AND photography makes this film the perfect vehicle to soak up the atmosphere of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. I would have been 8 years old when it was filmed and even at that early age, I was into Monk, Mulligan and Shearing. George lives just up the road from me and I know him quite well. He would have been 39 in 1958.
The film is beautifully shot, focusing on the performances, the music and atmosphere, but without a documentary. It doesn't need one! The way Bert Stern moves from artiste to audience is superb. Cool performers and guys in the audience, young and old all on the "afterbeat". Wonderful to see Monk playing "Blue Monk", Anita O'Day singing "Georgia Brown". Dig that hat!! And Mr Shearing with quintet, performing a late slot - fantastic!
The icing on the cake is an interactive journey, narrated by Mr Stern, behind the scenes of the film. He tells you his thinking, his emerging appreciation of jazz and his roots in photography. This is interlinked with specific sequences from his unique film. As the liner notes say "I was just . . . basically a photographer who wanted to make a movie before I was 30 . . . it was a form of a documentary and had a lot to do with photograhy . . . it wasn't something that I had ever seen before and it just intrigued me . . . it's more of of a happening. . . interpretive, happening . . ."
The quality of the video and audio is brilliant. If you appreciate photography or jazz, or like me . . . both, this film is a real must. Highly recommended! Regards to all, JON' B.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A great Film, my only dissapointment was the ommision of theDuke Ellington set, closing the actual event. This is an art film, thecinemaphotography is outstanding. The use of shape and light is masterful. Musical Highlights that ARE included in my opinion, are Anita O'Day, Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, and Monk.
If you are a (open minded!) jazz fan, and a art genre fan this is the film you have been waiting for!
DVD Info: Excellent color and sharpness. Audio is in Dolby Digital Mono. Crisp clear tone. Extras include a complete playlist for all three days of the festival. An interview with Bert Stern (both text and audio) with accompanying documentary imagery relating to Mr. Stern's other works mentioned in interview. Much insightful discussion about the planning, filming and post production of the film. Very fascinating and well worth the price.
Now, it may be me, but it seems that i noticed some brief segments of footage in the DVD release that i never noticed on my VHS copy. But im not running the VHS again to check, this DVD is so much better!
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Format: DVD
Bert Stern has both an eye and an ear for jazz, par excellence, capturing the spirit of the Newport Jazz festival in its heyday. This is a wonderful showcase of performances, ranging from the detached Thelonius Monk to the super cool Anita O'Day. But, without doubt, the performance that stands out is that of Mahalia Jackson who brings the crowd to their feet with "40 Days" and then brings them to their knees with her closing psalm, so passionately felt.
The movie takes you through a figurative day, capturing the sea air of Newport, the quiet practice sessions, the ebb and flow of the crowd as it grows to its evening peak, with a rocking performance by Chuck Berry. The Satchmo takes a wonderful turn at the mike with Jack Teargarden joining him in a fun duet. Chico Hamilton is there in all his seriousness with Eric Dolphy highlighting the band's performance. George Shearer looks like he could be playing at the Hollywood Bowl.
I was hoping for more extras on the DVD. The movie leaves you craving for more music. The 50's were the peak of the hip jazz scene and this movie is as hip as they come.
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