January 7, 2011

A Cool Ocean Breeze of Jazz

Jazz On A Summers DayFor anyone who hasn't seen Bert Stern's jazz documentary, Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960), go rent it immediately. This immensely enjoyable film, shot at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, is visual and aural candy. It is equal parts great jazz and people watching and both prove fascinating. The jazz audience of fifty years ago is like an exotic species under Stern's filmic microscope, and you can't take your eyes off the hats and sunglasses, the drunken dancing, the children playing, and the rapt listening. The musical performances are also stellar, with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Sonny Stitt, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Giuffre, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day, Louis Armstrong, and even Chuck Berry - all filmed with an intimacy that brings you right on stage with the performers. The way the film is put together - cutting between the performances and the people, along with the languorous pacing - make it a kind of work of abstract art come to life. This classic jazz documentary is highly recommended.

Here is a sample of the film - Anita O'Day singing "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Tea for Two."

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