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Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959)

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Set at the Newport jazz festival in 1958, this documentary mixes images of water and the town with performers and audience. The film progresses from day to night and from improvisational ... See full summary »

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Title: Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Himself
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Herself
Gerry Mulligan ...
Himself
Dinah Washington ...
Herself
Chico Hamilton ...
Himself
Anita O'Day ...
Herself
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Himself
Jimmy Giuffre ...
Himself
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Himself
Jack Teagarden ...
Himself
Thelonious Monk ...
Himself
Big Maybelle ...
Herself
Sonny Stitt ...
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Eli's Chosen Six ...
Themselves
David Baily ...
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Storyline

Set at the Newport jazz festival in 1958, this documentary mixes images of water and the town with performers and audience. The film progresses from day to night and from improvisational music to Gospel. It's a concert film that suggests peace and leisure, jazz at a particular time and place. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jazz | concert film | See All (2) »

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Their Songs and Music Set the Musical Mood

Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Release Date:

11 November 1960 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Bert Stern's Jazz on a Summer's Day  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Features one of the rare film appearances of two of the greatest jazz artists of all times: New Orleans-born trumpeter Louis Armstrong and Texas-born trombonist Jack Teagarden. When Armstrong formed his six-piece All Stars in 1946 Jack, who was white, was asked to join. The obvious affection these two great performers felt for each other's singing, clowning and playing is particularly evident in their classic performance of "Old Rocking Chair." After Armstrong was invited to return his home town after many years away, he insisted Teagarden join him on the stage. The city refused to let a white man and a Negro play together. Armstrong eventually returned to his native New Orleans, and performed at the very first New Orleans Jazz Festival. Coincidentally, along with Mahalia Jackson- his costar in this film. See more »

Connections

Featured in Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Newport Jazz Festival Of 1958
23 August 2009 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Partly a jazz concert and partly a time capsule to a long ago era, "Jazz On A Summer's Day" records highlights of the four-day, 1958 festival held in Newport, Rhode Island. The film gets off to a slow start, with interviews of arriving audience, shots of Newport, and cutaways to the America's Cup yacht race, taking place concurrently.

About nine minutes into the film, the real program begins. The brilliant Thelonious Monk plays "Blue Monk" on the keys. From here on, most of the audio and visuals focus on the festival itself, except for brief visual cuts to the sailing event and impromptu shots of people enjoying themselves in presumably nearby locales. Although the film title says "day", about two-thirds of the film is shot at night.

Different styles of jazz provide ample variety, and run the gamut from an apparently unrelated boarding house jam session to the rockin', soul-stirring gospel music of Mahalia Jackson, who forcefully belts out three numbers at the end. Louis Armstrong and rarely filmed trombone legend Jack Teagarden perform a casual, seemingly improv vocal of "Old Rocking Chair". Dinah Washington singing "All Of Me", and the unusual percussion sounds of the Chico Hamilton Quintet are also quite good. But my personal favorite was Chuck Berry and band with a slowed down, beat thumpin' rendition of "Sweet Little Sixteen".

My only serious complaint is the film's editing, which includes the sailing event and quite a few extraneous visuals, and a too-brief overall runtime. A three-hour total jazz event would have been ideal.

The overall mood of the concert is upbeat, almost carnivalesque. The camera jumps back and forth between on-stage performers and audience reaction. Everyone seems to be having a good time. Glad to see this film recognized by the National Film Registry, to preserve an account of a unique event, held at a crucial moment in American history.


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