Jazz on a Summer's Day

1959

Documentary / Music

1
IMDb Rating 8 10 1159

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
November 22, 2020 at 05:19 PM

Director

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720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
759.19 MB
968*720
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
1 hr 22 min
P/S 3 / 2
1.38 GB
1440*1072
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
1 hr 22 min
P/S 1 / 11

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ianlouisiana 10 / 10

Live jazz performances still thrill after nearly half a century

Apparently Bert Stern intended to make a feature film set at the 1958 Newport Jazz festival but ran out of money and was only left with the footage of the jazz acts.Hastily cobbled together with the odd snippet of local colour Mr Stern-by accident or design-came up with the definitive music festival documentary and every subsequent pop doc and MTV show is indebted to it. Tight focussing and contre-jour lighting contribute greatly to the atmosphere of intimacy so essential to jazz performances. From the brilliant opening images accompanying Jimmy Giuffre's "The train and the river" to Mahalia Jackson's magnificent 23rd psalm,"Jazz on a summer's day" is a masterpiece and a worthy memorial to the many giants who featured in it. Back in 1960 when it was released in the UK much outrage was expressed at the inclusion of such "non - jazz" performers as Chuck Berry and Big Maybelle,but their contributions demonstrate that "Jazz" is a word capable of embracing more broad parameters than was once believed.Indeed,one look at the broad grin on the face of Papa Jo Jones as he deftly drums behind Mr Berry will leave you in no doubt as to what he feels. Louis Armstrong's 58th birthday is celebrated on stage and his current All - Star line up,whilst not perhaps comparing too well with some of their predecessors,back him enthusiastically,and he gets to sing "Rockin' Chair" again with Big Tea,and has a lot of fun doing it. Anita O'Day's turn,rather like the Duke's in 1956,totally revitalised her career.With an outrageous hat and a skintight dress(and pretty - well stoned as she later cheerfully admitted)she tears up "Tea for Two" leaving both the audience and herself breathless.It is a performance of such daring that it can only have been attained after much rehearsal despite its artful air of spontaneity.I doubt if she ever bettered it. There is a lot of cheerful Dixie from Eli's Chosen Six and a splendid exercise in dynamics from the Chico Hamilton group. Their cellist Fred Katz gets to show off a bit with the Prelude from Bach's cello suite No 1,which he plays through a cloud of smoke and looks very cool indeed. These are just my personal highlights from a wonderful series of cameos from some of the greatest musicians of the era.I only hope I have whetted your appetite,and more than anything in the world I wish that I was 19 years old again and about to walk through the doors of "The Regent",Brighton to see it for the first time.

Reviewed by rdkugel2 8 / 10

A Vintage Gem

I think you can enjoy this film on a few levels.

First, it's a great chronicle of mid-century music. Although nominally a jazz festival, producer George Wein put Berry, a rock 'n roll star, and Jackson, the leading gospel singer of her day, on the roster, probably to attract a larger crowd.

The images are superb. If you're over 50, you probably recall Bert Stern's photography. It was a pinnacle of mid-century advertising (the Smirnoff ad shot in the Egyptian desert with the pyramid, inverted, in a refreshingly cool vodka martini glass with a twist). It was his stills of Sue Lyons in Stanley Kubrick's version of Lolita that everyone remembers. Almost everyone has seen his iconic nude photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe ("The Last Sitting").

Here you have the still photographer's sensibility brought to a documentary. You can see the same thing in Ken Burns' earlier works for the same reason. The tight shots of the performers using very long lenses (something that was not yet common in film but was emerging on TV at the time). The long, languid, at times voyeuristic shots of the audience. The Festival was taking place at the same time as the America's Cup trials. Stern shot some of this from a Piper Cub (inexpensive to rent and almost as slow as a helicopter), and there are some long cutaways to this footage. At times, the images on the screen resemble the LP covers of the era – the original "Miles Ahead" cover, for example, featuring the beautiful (white) model on a sailboat (which Davis despised).

The mono sound is surprisingly good given the circumstances, probably because the audio track was engineered and recorded by Columbia Records, which was there to record its artists. They used then-state-of-the-art studio microphones rather than the more durable lower quality ones you'd typically see in a concert setting in those days. Yes, sound recording technology is better today.

Second, you can appreciate the back story of making the film. Today, people in their 20s and 30s making documentaries probably have no appreciation of how tough it was to pull off this project. Today, high definition video cameras and tape can be had for a tiny fraction of what film cameras, 35MM stock and processing cost in those days. Sound synchronization is a given. Today, for a fraction of the cost of a Moviola you can assemble your A and B rolls and soundtrack on a computer, without having to pay extras for optical effects or sound processing. You no longer have to assemble and keep track of miles of film and mag stripe audio reels, as well as handle the negative with loving care. It's all there on your hard drive and you get unlimited do-overs. Aram Avakian, the editor (also a photographer and filmmaker), was at it night and day for months and months largely by himself. (Woodstock, by contrast, had a large team of editors and assistants.) Avakian, as much as Stern, is responsible for the film (the two share the director's credit). Also, trying to sync up the images from all those different cameras with the soundtrack had to be challenging and I'm guessing it must have required a lot of work and inspired work-arounds to get it looking as good as it did.

Not to mention just how audacious it was for Stern to put the money up for shooting it himself and how he managed to get a large number of professional cameramen to help out. Since he didn't have enough money to shoot (or even light) everything, Stern used George Avakian, a legendary producer at Columbia Records and Aram's brother, to cue the film crew to turn on the lights and start rolling when he thought a number would be worth shooting.

After scouting the location, Stern was so unimpressed by the Festival's cruddy venue (the local high school athletic field) he decided not to make the film, only to have his mind changed by the person sitting next to him on his flight back to New York. He originally planned to create a story line around the festival. Luckily, it proved impossible to film the hokey stuff they had written.

Third, it's an authentic look at mid-century America. When I was growing up in the 60s, I used to look at back issues of Life magazines of the 30s and 40s. At first to "goof on" at the earnestness and corniness of the ads and the stories. But then to appreciate the nuances of living everyday life in the decades before I was born, which you could glean from leafing through those pages. "Anonymous history" is infused in the film. The kid holding several empty soda bottles is probably there at the festival because sneaking into an event like this and picking up empties was an easy way to earn some money. In those days, the deposit you paid on bottles was much larger in real terms than today.

Shows like "Mad Men" do a decent enough job of picking up some of the atmospherics of this time (usually by showing people smoking cigarettes like madmen), but this is the real thing. The clothes, especially, but also in the gestures and the way people move. And then there's the White/Negro thing in this film. There wasn't the kind of overt racism in Newport, Rhode Island that you would find in the south but there was definitely separateness. Remember, in 1958 Amos 'n Andy was still being shown on TV, and only white people were in TV ads. The two groups are integrated in the movie, but this wasn't typical. Stern was told that he probably couldn't distribute the movie in the south because of this.

In all, a real gem for anyone who loves jazz. A must-see for anyone who likes, makes or wants to make documentary films.

Reviewed by tavm 10 / 10

See Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Mahalia Jackson among others entertain in Jazz on a Summer's Day

Anita O'Day singing "Sweet Georgia Brown". Dinah Washington warbling "All of Me" while also playing the xylophone. Chuck Berry playing guitar rocking to "Sweet Little Sixteen" while also doing his famous duck walk. Thelonious Monk on the piano. Gerry Mulligan with his band. Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden dueting on "Rocking Chair". And Mahalia Jackson ending the program on "The Lord's Prayer". All those I've cited are highlights of what I've seen in this great documentary of the Newport Jazz Festival of 1958 which ran at the same time as the America's Cup boat race of which some of that is also shown. And seeing all those shots of audience members having the time of their lives were also fine visually especially when one was seen singing along with one of Sachmo's songs. The whole thing was an overwhelming treat to watch so all I'll now say is Jazz on a Summer's Day is highly recommended.

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