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
Imagine gathering 57 of the greatest legends, the creme de la creme, the absolute je ne sais quoi elite of the American art form; the people who created, shaped, formed and reformed, coddled and nursed, and were themselves that art form. The men and women of Jazz, capital "jay", in 1958. Imagine gathering not a dozen or so, but 57 of the greatest, most influential musicians of the day. In one place. At the same time. To capture one photograph.
Now try to imagine not only how difficult that feat would be, but consider that the photo shoot was scheduled for daylight hours when jazz musicians are just getting home from their all-night gigs!!
And yet, without having a real sense at the significance of the gathering at the time, one man, Art Kane, was able to accomplish that feat. What remains is not only the still black and white image of that one moment, but the moving pictures recorded before, during and after the photo was taken.
This film is a labor of love. Of love for the craft of jazz. Of love for the craftspeople of jazz. Of love for the art of jazz.
On the ode scale, which rates movies based on the total cost of seeing it versus the quality of the film itself: Definitely worth the cost of a full-price admission, plus large popcorn and large drink. Worth seeing even if you have to pay a baby sitter and a cab fare. Seeing it on the big screen is the only way to get the full impact, the full resonance of what this day represented then and what it represents to jazz lovers today.
Plus, it is pure joy to watch the Giants at play!
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