Art Kane, now deceased, coordinated a group photograph of all the top jazz musicians in NYC in the year 1958, for a piece in Esquire magazine. Just about every jazz musician at the time ... See full summary »

Director:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.

Director: Charlotte Zwerin
Stars: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Jimmy Cleveland
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Documentary on the life of jazz trumpeter and drug addict Chet Baker. Fascinating series of interviews with friends, family, associates and lovers, interspersed with film from Baker's ... See full summary »

Director: Bruce Weber
Stars: Chet Baker, Carol Baker, Vera Baker
Bird (1988)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The troubled life and career of the jazz musician, Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

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 »

Directors: Bert Stern, Aram Avakian
Stars: Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry
Miles Ahead (2015)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis.

Director: Don Cheadle
Stars: Don Cheadle, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 'Round Midnight, real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon brilliantly portrays the fictional tenor sax player Dale Turner, a musician slowly losing the battle with alcoholism, estranged from ... See full summary »

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet, Gabrielle Haker
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can't stay away from the music of the ... See full summary »

Director: Allen Reisner
Stars: Nat 'King' Cole, Eartha Kitt, Cab Calloway
Short | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

This Warner Bros. short is a jam session with several outstanding African-American jazz musicians, including Lester Young. Darkly lit and with a mood that matches the music, the film was ... See full summary »

Director: Gjon Mili
Stars: Lester Young, George 'Red' Callender, Harry Edison
Jazz (TV Mini-Series 2001)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A survey of the musical form's history and major talents.

Stars: Keith David, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Director: Don McGlynn
Stars: Charles Mingus, Gunther Schuller
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The childhood, adolescence, and incredible adult years of Al Hirshfeld, celebrated creator of thousands of line drawings of famous people - many in the entertainment industry - over a span ... See full summary »

Director: Susan Warms Dryfoos
Stars: Julie Andrews, Lauren Bacall, Carol Channing
The Miles Davis Story (TV Movie 2001)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A review of the life and work of Miles Davis as told by those who knew and worked with him.

Director: Michael Dibb
Stars: Jimmy Cobb, Shirley Horn, Frances Davis
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself / Narrator
Dizzy Gillespie ...
Himself
...
Himself
Buck Clayton ...
Himself
Art Blakey ...
Himself
Hank Jones ...
Himself
Art Farmer ...
Himself
Johnny Griffin ...
Himself
Milt Hinton ...
Himself
Chubby Jackson ...
Himself
Scoville Browne ...
Himself
Felix Maxwell ...
Himself
Paula Morris ...
Herself
Taft Jordan Jr. ...
Himself
Everard Powell ...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

Art Kane, now deceased, coordinated a group photograph of all the top jazz musicians in NYC in the year 1958, for a piece in Esquire magazine. Just about every jazz musician at the time showed up for the photo shoot which took place in front of a brownstone near the 125th street station. The documentary compiles interviews of many of the musicians in the photograph to talk about the day of the photograph, and it shows film footage taken that day by Milt Hinton and his wife. Written by Daren Gill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 February 1995 (USA)  »

Box Office

Gross:

$527,274 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in The Terminal (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A "Great Day" plus a worthwhile bonus disc
2 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jean Bach does the seemingly impossible with "A Great Day in Harlem. She makes a 40-year-old B&W photograph come alive.

Art Kane's first photo assignment for Esquire magazine in 1958 must have been his own personal Everest. Get 50+ jazz musicians in one place at one time, stand across the street, point and shoot. Sure, no problem. But the cats came in droves, some of them having not yet gone to bed after a gig the night before. Some were probably nursing hangovers. But Kane captured a photo that is a cult icon, a time capsule of the heyday of hard bop, with many seminal figures from an earlier day standing proudly beside them.

The late great bassist, Milt Hinton, who is one of the warmest and most charming people interviewed, was also a fine photographer. His wife captured much of the Great Day with a color 8mm movie camera, and it's a treat to see the ensemble milling about on the street and taking their places for the final picture.

Many of the people in this photo are not and never were household names. But the musicians Jean Bach tracked down to give their reminiscences are quick to give them their due. They recognize their skill and talent and recall the personalities of their lesser-known counterparts. Perhaps those just getting into jazz will be motivated to seek out CDs by Benny Golson, Roy Eldridge and others by virtue of the "props" given them by their old buddies and bandmates.

The Bonus Disc is worth watching, if only for the segment on "copycat" photos, and there have been many. A restaging of the original photo is quite poignant. But nothing on it is filler: the jazzmen really did warm up to Jean Bach if they didn't already know her, and they ended up talking about everything.

This documentary was as great an idea as the Art Kane photo that inspired it. Highly recommended.


8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
'Great Day' revisited NW_Sweeper
Discuss A Great Day in Harlem (1994) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?