Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959) – Newport Jazz Festival 1958


From Wikipedia:

Jazz on a Summer’s Day is a concert film set at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival [1] in Rhode Island, directed by commercial and fashion photographer Bert Stern and Aram Avakian[2], who also edited the film. The Columbia Records jazz producer, George Avakian, was the musical director of the film.

The film mixes images of water and the city with the performers and audience at the festival. It also features scenes of the 1958 America’s Cup yacht races. The film is largely without dialog or narration (except for periodic announcements by emcee Willis Conover). [read more]

From a review by Bosley Crowther, published in the New York Times, 29 March 1960:

AS generous a dish of top jazz music as any cat could take in one gulp is beautifully ladled off the sound track of “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” a color film about the Newport Jazz Festival that opened at the Fifth Avenue Cinema and the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse yesterday. While the music is pouring, in a variety of rhythms and styles, the screen is presenting a picture album of views of Newport, R. I., at festival time.

Possibly “documentary” is not precisely the word to suggest the characteristic of this eighty-five-minute film, which really lacks the form and comprehension that would justify that tag. Better to call it an “impression”—a compilation of shots and scenes—to convey an atmosphere of leisure and enjoyment while jazz is being played.

As the Jimmy Giuffre Trio, Thelonious Monk and Henry Grimes, Sonny Stitt and Sal Salvadore and a succession of combos and stars follow one another under the canopy of the Newport Festival, thumping or blasting out music that soothes or abrades the nerves, the cameras of Bert Stern and his assistants are picking up colorful views of everything from the America’s Cup races (which were sailed off Newport in 1958) to “gone” jazz fanatics guzzling beer.

The photography is terrific. Mr. Stern and his lens-clicking crew have a bulging assembly of color pictures that should make any camera addict simply drool. There are wonderful shots of young jazz combos riding around Newport in veteran cars, parties on yachts, couples necking, fat guys in Bermuda shorts. The assortment of candid views is endless and embraces what must be the range of the mass descent upon Newport when the summer festival is there.

Likewise, the views of the musicians are superior in the photographic sense, catching them brilliantly in close-ups and in significant compositions while they are dreamily and frenziedly at work. Anita O’Day, making mincemeat of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Tea for Two,” is as vivid and insinuating as is Mahalia Jackson booming “The Lord’s Prayer.” The George Shearing Quintet, wafting ripples of “Rondo” excitement into the night, is as great, in its way, as are Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden dueting on “Rocking Chair.” [read more]

release dates, from IMDb:

  • Italy – August 1959 (Venice Film Festival)
  • USA – 28 March 1960 (New York City, NY)

A copy of the Newport Jazz Festival 1958 program is available at Rhode Island Rocks (rirocks.net). The program indicates that the event lasted four days, 3-6 July, and that Anita O’Day was scheduled to perform on the afternoon of Sunday, 6 July. However, the program doesn’t credit the members of the band supporting O’Day, instead saying only “Miss O’Day will be accompanied by Jimmie Jones on piano.”

Lineup, of performers in order of appearance in the film, from Wikipedia:

  • Jimmy Giuffre 3: Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Hall
  • Thelonious Monk Trio: Thelonious Monk, Henry Grimes, Roy Haynes
  • Sonny Stitt and Sal Salvador
  • Anita O’Day
  • George Shearing
  • Dinah Washington
  • Gerry Mulligan Quartet: Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer
  • Big Maybelle
  • Chuck Berry
  • Chico Hamilton Quintet
  • Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars: Trummy Young, Danny Barcelona
  • Armstrong & Jack Teagarden
  • Mahalia Jackson

(below) complete, or nearly complete, 78-minute version of the film


Anita O’Day performs “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Tea for Two” — Sunday afternoon, 6 July 1958


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alan Slade
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 08:05:02

    The complete film was very good

    Liked by 1 person


  2. musicdoc1
    Jun 26, 2020 @ 17:47:41



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