Jazz on a Summer's Day - Virtual Cinema (1959)

  • Documentary, Music
  • 1h 25m

“Gorgeous. It’s probably the best feature-length jazz concert movie ever made.” - Chicago Reader

“A fascinating, electrifying, and invaluable social document.” - TV Guide

One of the greatest music docs of all time; JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY showcases the best Jazz players of their time at the height of their game along with Chuck Berry riding his Rock and Roll popularity in a genre bending appearance. See Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong and the seminal performance by Anita O’Day.

Newport Rhode Island is the setting, shot in heavy saturated technicolor that juxtaposes the usual dark smoking environment of BeBop Jazz. Sonny Stitt, Jack Teagarden, Gerry Mulligan, Dinah Washington and even Mahalia Jackson lay down the soundtrack to 1958 when this was the coolest, most intense music there was. Prior to the British Invasion, this was the culmination of decades of evolving American music inspired by and largely played by American Black performers who had no time for selling out, no stomach for commerciality. This epic performance is the most intense and pure presentation of their art ever conceived.

Co-directed and shot by photographer Bert Stern, who went on to shoot the last photos of Marilyn Monroe, this important work has found a new audience every generation because of it’s lush look, great sound and blistering performances.

See if you can spot the crowd shots added in after principal photography due to his singular focus on the performances. He gathered an audience later to watch the assembled film and filmed them reacting to it.

Jazz on a Summers Day was shot in the summer of ‘58, debuted at the Venice Film Festival in ‘59 and finally released in ‘60 to rave reviews. The film was named to the National Film Registry in 1999. The version we are presenting on Alamo on Demand is a sparkling new restoration funded by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress in time to celebrate the film’s 60th Anniversary.

Director

Aram Avakian

Director

Bert Stern

Language(s)

English