IMDb > A Great Day in Harlem (1994)

A Great Day in Harlem (1994) More at IMDbPro »

A Great Day in Harlem -- 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'!


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Release Date:
24 February 1995 (USA) See more »
Art Kane, now deceased, coordinated a group photograph of all the top jazz musicians in NYC in the year 1958... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win See more »
User Reviews:
A "Great Day" plus a worthwhile bonus disc See more (6 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Quincy Jones ... Himself / Narrator
Dizzy Gillespie ... Himself

Sonny Rollins ... 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
Marian McPartland ... Herself
Bud Freeman ... Himself
Max Kaminsky ... Himself
Eddie Locke ... Himself
Gerry Mulligan ... Himself
Benny Golson ... Himself
Ernie Wilkins ... Himself
Elaine Lorillard ... Herself
Nat Hentoff ... Himself
Mona Hinton ... Herself
Robert Altschuler ... Himself
Mike Lipskin ... Himself
Steve Frankfurt ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Horace Silver ... Himself
Henry 'Red' Allen ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Count Basie ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Robert Benton ... Himself (uncredited)
Vic Dickenson ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Roy Eldridge ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Sonny Greer ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Coleman Hawkins ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Jo Jones ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Gene Krupa ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Charles Mingus ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Thelonious Monk ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Jimmy Rushing ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Pee Wee Russell ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Zutty Singleton ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Stuffy Smith ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Willie 'The Lion' Smith ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Rex Stewart ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Maxine Sullivan ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Lester Young ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Jean Bach 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jean Bach 
Susan Peehl 
Matthew Seig 

Produced by
Terrell Braly .... executive producer
Stuart Samuels .... associate producer
Matthew Seig .... co-producer
Cinematography by
Steve Petropoulos 
Film Editing by
Susan Peehl 
Sound Department
Judy Benjamin .... sound recordist
Chris Burke .... sound effects
Neal Gettinger .... sound recordist (as Neil Gettinger)
Steven Hertzog .... sound recordist
Jerry Stein .... sound mixer
Roy B. Yokelson .... post-production sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Del Hall .... additional cinematographer
Ralph Pitre .... animation camera operator
Animation Department
Michael Bianchi .... animator: title animation
Editorial Department
Phil Fallo .... on-line editor
Music Department
Rick Eisenstein .... music clearances
Johnny Mandel .... music consultant
Other crew
Mark Cantor .... archival consultant
Andreas Combuchen .... title designer
Milt Hinton .... source: original 8 mm film
Mona Hinton .... source: original 8 mm film

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

60 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Terminal (2004)See more »


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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A "Great Day" plus a worthwhile bonus disc, 2 July 2006
Author: ecjones1951 from United States

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.

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