on 29 July 2004
The greatest jazz film of all time. 1958 was a turning point in modern music and this film encapsulates the transition between the traditional and the modern. The Newport Jazz festival has been going now for 50 years but at no other festival was such a diversified line up of artists assembled. From Louis Armstrong to Chuck Berry, Anita O'Day to Theolonius Monk, this is a concert to savour. Shot by a fashion photographer and linked with stunning passages featuring the 1958 America's cup, this is more than a concert film. It is a study of 1950's America having a great time on a summer's day. Buy it.
on 8 July 2004
I was 16 and in Missouri when this movie was made and when I saw the film, it just told me that there was a great wide world out there and I wanted to get to it fast. I spent years and years trying to find a record of Jazz on a Summers Day, but nothing appeared. Copyright problems I was told. Well, there is no problem now! I can put the DVD on my computer and just listen to the magic of the day or sit and watch. The movie and music capture an America long gone, and I miss that. But at least the DVD gives me that day when the sun shone and the music was HOT.
on 5 February 2002
From the opening sequence of the river traffic reflected in the moving water, the visuals throughout are spectacular; & as artistic & colourful as the music captured. I became a fan of Anita O`Day & the Gerry Mulligan Quartet as a result of seeing this film.
Its a time capsule of late 50`s American style.
The section of a Bach Cello Suite played on Double Bass in the darkened room has the sound & visuals absolutely enhancing each other with the vivid shaft of light showing only portions of instrument & player (& his pipe smoke) thoughout.
The shape of the future is hinted at in an early Chuck Berry performance near the end.
on 16 November 2008
In my opinion, this is the perfect movie. The photography is amazing thanks to Bert Stern being a stills man first of all, and a film maker second. His work shows the best of both worlds. The music is so fantastic that the audience actually listens to it!!!! A bit of a novelty nowadays. Mind you, I'm still wondering what Chuck Berry was doing there. Still he was fun!
I can't work out whether Mahalia Jackson or Chico Hamilton stole the show, but you could literally hear a pin drop during their performances, the audience was so entranced. I would put them equal first.
Watch it, listen to it, and make up your own mind. If you like wonderful music played with skill, love and talent, this is the DVD for you
on 14 January 2002
When I first saw this, more than 10 years ago, I remember being transfixed.
Although the cinematography could be said to now show it's age, it beautifully conveys a feeling of the time. The warmth, brilliance, genius, sense of fun and in retrospect naiveté of a bygone era.
My personal favorite has to be Mahalia Jackson, as there is so little footage of her around.
To sum up though, I would defy anybody to watch this and not come away with some positive feeling that they would wish to keep with them.
on 13 May 2011
I first saw Jazz on a summer's day the year it was produced and the image of Anita O'Day flirting with the microphone, in her wide-brimmed hat, has stayed with me since then. When I bought the DVD a few weeks ago everything came back: the America's Cup boat out in the waters of Newport, Rhode Island, Louis Armstrong playing his trumpet and singing in his rough voice, Mahalia Jackson's unbelievable timing etc.
I don't think a better jazz film has ever been produced. And partly thanks to the camera of Bert Stern, who could find the essence of the artists.
Really a great experience!
on 11 August 2013
There have been few films about jazz as evocative as this one. Bert Stern brought to this, his first documentary, his remarkable photographer's 'eye' and a wonderful feel for his subject.
With a cast that includes Louis Armstrong, Anita O'Day, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Chico Hamilton, Mahalia jackson, George Shearing and a young Chuck Berry - well, how can you go wrong!
It was shot over a few days in Newport and Stern inter-cuts his coverage of the jazz sets with beautiful footage of sea, sand, sails and water during the Newport regatta. He also grabs actuality of the crowds enjoying the music or simply soaking up the sun. For its time, this 'cinema verite' approach was fresh and original and set the standard or many documentaries that followed.
If you love fine jazz (both modern and traditional) and fancy a sunny weekend break, then buy this DVD immediately.
on 19 July 2011
My wife and I saw this film before we were married in 1962 and it gave us a love of jazz which has lasted through the years. The fact that it is not like other videos of music festivals, showing scenes other than just the musicians playing, gives it a unique flavour.
Some of the shots have stayed in our memory quite vividly, the cellist rehearsing and smoking a cigarette, the girl in the sunglasses he keeps finding in the crowd, all the time the music playing.
There are some memorable performances as well, Chuck Berry didn't stand out as unusual in a jazz concert because he lit up the stage. Louis Armstrong, well, what can you say, absolute master of his craft but to us, how can you forget Mahalia Jackson singing The Lord's Prayer.
A film for music lovers, where the technique of the hand held camera is being used to great effect, an effect being copied by the modern movie maker.
on 29 January 2016
From a music lovers point of view this is a sometimes frustrating film. Although entitled 'Jazz On A Summers Day', looking at the line up of The Newport Jazz Festival 1958, this appears to have been filmed over the Saturday evening, Sunday daytime and Sunday evening sessions.
Even allowing for the fact that Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck all played earlier in the Festival, Bert Stern has for me been a little eccentric in his selection of featured artists.
No Ray Charles or Big Joe Turner included from the sessions which were filmed, but Big Maybelle, Jimmy Guiffre, and Chico Hamilton featured. No disrespect to the artists featured but if this had been intended solely as a musical record of the Newport Jazz Festival 1958, it could have been so much better and more representative.
Although Thelonius Monk is given one number, it is mostly spoken over, with visual cutaways to the ocean and The Americas Cup. The Sonny Stitt number is also mainly comprised of visual cutaways from the stage.
Most of the musical selections are possibly on the safe side in terms of appealing to a white audience, and in this pre civil rights era when incursive film censorship was also still in place, one wonders whether a more gutsy film could have been made commercially.
I say this having observed at one point, when Big Maybelle starts to shake her huge frame, the camera pans suddenly away.
It is merely reflective of American society at this time, that the daytime audience for the festival is largely made up of well to do whites. I'm sure the vast majority of these people were non-bigoted liberals, and that the general community of jazz players and afficianados was more integrated than any other segment in 1950s America. The daytime shots though do tend to mainly give the impression of well-off white America at play. The film from the music lovers point of view therefore shows too much footage of children and adults at play, and not enough of genuinely interesting concert footage.
Dinah Washington, The George Shearing Quintet, two of Mahalia Jacksons upbeat gospel numbers, and even Chuck Berrys somewhat muted Sweet Little Sixteen are welcome highlights of the concert footage. Louis Armstrongs performance, although the guy is nonetheless likeable, is too stagey and grounded in his semi-comedic persona. I'd rather he just sang and played jazz.
With all the musical gripes out of the way, you have to say the cinematography on its own terms is excellent. To film a music concert in colour at that time was certainly unusual if not groundbreaking. And although it often deviates from and detracts from the music, in terms of social history, fashions and attitudes this is a sometimes interesting cinematic document. It was probably also commercially brave in this era, to create a film around what was a somewhat niche interest. Bert Stern was apparently a fashion photographer rather than a documentary or music film maker, so this is probably more fairly judged as an artistic interpretation of a music festival and its contingent social and cultural background.
So all in all, a decent effort in the context of the time when it was made, and possibly unusual and even eye-opening for many of the people it reached.
Fortunately for today's lovers of Ray Charles there is a great dvd comprised of old Brazilian tv footage(some visual deficiencies aside) in 'Live in Brazil'. Many great blues artists including Joe Turner can also be found in dvds of The American Folk Blues Festivals which toured Europe in the 60's. And for unadulterated jazz footage you have the Jazz Icons series, usually featuring individual artists over 2 or 3 concerts in their careers.
If you are therefore looking for pure musical footage of jazz and blues legends, there are now many other dvds available to google, or to search for via Amazon or similar websites.
on 16 February 2010
This is one of the most valuable movies ever made.
NOt just one of the best documentaries or music-docs.
They way it's been shot, the atmosphere it conveys from each moment, and its fine, fine touch, really make it so unique!
Watchin Jazz on a summer's day is like living that day, that era, that feelings, that carefree spirit of the audience and intimate and still lighthearted unique approach of the musicians to their own music. It is like a daydreaming impressionist painting.
No wonder it's been included in American Congress Preservation Library.
The quality of the dvd is excellent too.
You also get the cd soundtrack with it.