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Jazz on a Summer's Day [Import]

Louis Armstrong , Mahalia Jackson , Bert Stern    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Part concert documentary, part pop-cultural time capsule, Bert Stern's Jazz on a Summer's Day chronicles the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with an approach as deceptively relaxed, even impulsive, as the music itself. Still photographer Stern sidesteps more formal documentary conventions such as narrative voiceovers to wander purposefully from festival stage to boarding-house jam sessions, taking in the parallel color and motion of the America's Cup preparations when he isn't capturing rich color footage of the performances and the celebratory mood of the concertgoers. In the process, he documents American jazz at a notably golden moment in its development--diverse, adventurous, and still broadly popular, this was jazz not yet under the shadow of rock and youth culture, played by an integrated artistic community a few short years away from social and political turmoil that would boil divisively to the surface during the '60s. To say Stern was rolling film in a jazz Camelot is overstatement, but only slightly so.

Stern's circular approach and wonderful eye achieve a breezy languor at the expense of more comprehensive coverage of the festival's bumper crop of strong jazz, blues, and gospel musicians. Perhaps inevitably, the camera lingers on Louis Armstrong, Anita O'Day, Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, and George Shearing. Avid fans of later styles may be frustrated by the fleeting glimpses of other musicians such as Eric Dolphy and Art Farmer, or the honor roll of classic jazz stylists whose Newport sets weren't included in the film, but such omissions seem forgivable, if not necessary, to Stern's serendipitous design. --Sam Sutherland

Special Features

The DVD release benefits from a crisp remastering of Stern's original cinematography, which captures often vivid, highly saturated colors. The 5.1 audio mix, apparently pulled from monaural elements, opens up the sound without attempting a more precise directional presentation. Menu options include chapter access to individual performances, a complete festival playlist, Web links, and a 30-minute interactive documentary with director Stern, including additional scenes. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Jazzmen - Poor Movie Jan. 11 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is without a doubt a video any serious jazz enthusiast must have. Not because it is such a great movie, as the liner notes pompously want to imply. On the contrary, what's so great about this movie is that one can see and hear many jazzmen in action. It's actually a shame we don't get more, since for long endless sequences we are kept starving for the protagonists, namely those who make the music and are the main reason for this video.
Here is the reconstructed list (missing from jacket and film) of the performers, in order of appearance:
1.The Jimmy Giuffre (ts) - Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) - Jim Hall (g) trio
2.Thelonious Monk (p), Henry Grimes (b), Roy Haynes (d)
3.The Sonny Still (ts) - Sal Salvador (g) group
4.Anita O' Day
5.The George Shearing Quintet
6.Dinah Washington, with probably Terry Gibbs (vibes), Urbie Green (tb), Max Roach (d)
7.The Art Farmer - Gerry Mulligan Quartet
8.Big Maybelle, with an ad-hoc orchestra
9.Chuck Berry
10.The Chico Hamilton Quartet, with Eric Dolphy (fl)
11.The Louis Armstrong All Stars, with Trummy Young(tb), Barney Bigard (cl), probably Arvell Shaw (b), Danny Barcelona (d), joined by Jack Teagarden on Rockin' Chair
12.Mahalia Jackson
All perform at the top of their form. This is not to say, however, that the video is not marred by some deficiencies. Most annoying is the talking on top of a performance, the excessive and lengthy shots of a not-too-competent public, lengthy extraneous scenes with unexciting landscapes, and a general attitude of putting jazz music in the background. There are some nonchalant omissions: such as the unmentioned band with a singer, not shown, between appearances 1. and 2.
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The only way it could be better is if it were 4 times as long. Worth the investment purely for Anita O'Day, (her stage name was adopted from Pig Latin for "dough" as in money).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bert Stern Aug. 17 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Amazzzzzzing doc ... Timeless ...great performances... A slice of jazz of days gone by. Bert Stern original Mad Man <3
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm lucky enough to own a rare 1963 VHS Tape of this greatest of live Jazz Movies, as well as the DVD I've just purchased. To remind myself of the positives and negatives, I played both this evening. The VHS picture has somewhat less colour (my tape is 50 years old, of course) but surprisingly, the picture quality is marginally better than on the DVD, where the images are sometimes broken up, to my disappointment - check the Jimmy Guiffre track at the beginning to see what I mean.
The sound is marginally better on the DVD, and thankfully, the DVD was much less costly - I paid Can$85 for the VHS tape in 1963, as it was very scarce even then.
But Bert Stern really made a magnificent visual record of the performances, with a great feel for Newport in the late 1950s, and marvellous - sometimes almost surreal - camerawork; though I wasn't there, watching this movie transports you there very delightfully.
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5.0 out of 5 stars important documentary July 27 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A fantastic color documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Fest. It's a chance to see and hear the truly great stars who are no longer among us but still wield enormous influence. I find it odd that I couldn't order this from the U.S.. Oh well. Nothing south of the border surprises us anymore. Thank you for doing a nice job on the DVD. I really appreciate it. Thanks.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A piece of yesterday, live and in color May 9 2003
Bert Stern was a still photographer who got the opportunity to take a film crew to the 1959 Newport Jazz festival. With limited time and film, Stern and his crew set out not just to record a musical event, but to record a social experience.
For the most part, he succeeds, although there is more than enough footage of a boat race on Chesapeake bay that day to last me for the rest of my life.
The film cuts from performances to reactions of the crowd, as any concert film would. It's interesting to see the wide difference in clothing styles that appealed to people in 1959. Everything from men in suits to greasers in denim can be seen dancing and grooving along with the music.
People living nearby the festival can be seen partying on their roofs and dancing, booze in hand, to the music. People of every age are shown bopping along with whoever is on stage at the time.
Highlights: Anita O'Day's spot-on performance, in spite of the fact that she's well into her much-ballyhooed drug and booze habit (in a recent radio interview she said she couldn't remember doing this gig after even watching the film); Louis Armstrong, Jerry Mulligan, and the rather out-of-place, clearly there-for-the-kids but dressed to the nines and behaving himself, Chuck Berry. Older jazz guys have no idea what to make of Chuck, and one guy, in an attempt to "jazz up" Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," starts playing some rather odd clarinet runs. Think "Sweet Little Bar Mitzvah."
There's a nice bunch of extras on here, too, including an interview with Stern that expalins a lot about what was going on.
If you like jazz, or documentaries, or just good music, this is a keeper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where Was the Rest of Dinah Washington? April 16 2003
I have always loved this documentary, but there wasn't enough Dinah Washington for my taste. I have the album, "Dinah Washington at Newport '58" and she sings Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues" in a shattering performance. Why they chose "All of Me" over "BB" is beyond me. They probably filmed it, why didn't they include it in this DVD?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars As hip as they come
Bert Stern has both an eye and an ear for jazz, par excellence, capturing the spirit of the Newport Jazz festival in its heyday. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by James Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fabulous!!!
This great DVD has just about everything a true Jazz lover could ask for! Especially a legendary performance by one of the GREATEST Jazz Stylists of all time, THE INCOMPARABLE... Read more
Published on April 7 2003 by "nataliesnumber1fan"
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fabulous!!!
This great DVD has just about everything a true Jazz lover could ask for! Especially a legendary performance by one of the GREATEST Jazz Stylists of all time, THE INCOMPARABLE... Read more
Published on April 7 2003 by "nataliesnumber1fan"
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahalia Jackson Steals the show!
From the very beginning of the documentary, one can see the creative license of the producers by focusing the cameras on the sun-baked, glistening ocean scene of Newport. Read more
Published on March 5 2003 by Noel Serrano
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz? Rock? Gospel?
This movie has its ups and downs. The downs are the minutes spent touring the area. The ups are the great artists and combinations of artists that you see-Dinah Washington, Mahalia... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Old movie fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lot Of Fun!
I make no claim to being a jazz listener or jazz expert -- most of the names on this DVD I have never heard of before. Read more
Published on March 12 2002 by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in Time Nostalgia
Jazz on a Summer's Day carries you back to that July 4th weekend of 1958. Not only the music, but the entire scene of that era. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2001 by David Hudson
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