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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Wonderful visual link to an earlier time at Newport. It captures the atmosphere beautifully. Anita O'Day is the highlight with one of the best jazz vocal presentations on film.Published 4 months ago by netcole
Doesn't play on PS3 in Canada. Great performances, but Monk's is too short.Published 9 months ago by André Pelletier
DVD (Charly release; ASIN: B00005NX0L): 6/10
Picture quality: 6,5/10
Sound: 6/10; mono
Aspect ratio: 1,33:1 (orig. Read more
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... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Robert T. Boyter
Amazzzzzzing doc ... Timeless ...great performances... A slice of jazz of days gone by. Bert Stern original Mad Man <3Published on Aug. 17 2013 by TCJ
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2013 by Peter Froud
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. Read morePublished on July 27 2012 by scarsdale15
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 morePublished on Nov. 17 2003 by James Ferguson
Bert Stern was a still photographer who got the opportunity to take a film crew to the 1959 Newport Jazz festival. Read morePublished on May 9 2003 by Tom Tuerff