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Jazz on a Summer’s Day

Outstanding feature-length documentary centered around the Newport Jazz Festival. It's a document of the medium, spanning most of the jazz styles and including a rich selection of top performers and material. It's Americana, and a document of its time as well via observation of audiences and the life surrounding the Newport event, not least the neatly-integrated footage concerning the America Cup Yacht Races.

Outstanding feature-length documentary centered around the Newport Jazz Festival. It’s a document of the medium, spanning most of the jazz styles and including a rich selection of top performers and material. It’s Americana, and a document of its time as well via observation of audiences and the life surrounding the Newport event, not least the neatly-integrated footage concerning the America Cup Yacht Races.

Structure of the film basically follows that of the two-day event around which it centers, with occasional digressions, over the jazz soundtrack, to other nearby scenes such as the cup races, children playing, wave and water effects, reflections, all neatly matched to mood of motif being played. Juxtaposition is sometimes humorous, sometimes ironic, at others merely illustrative, but always deft.

On-the-spot lensing under difficult lighting conditions, both daytime and night-time, is often incredibly good. Some unprecedented effects are achieved by cameramen Bert Stern, Ray Phelan, and Courtney Hafela (under Stern’s imaginative and stylish guidance). Similar plaudits also for an oustanding (magnetic) sound recording job, all part of near-perfect teamwork on pic.

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Jazz on a Summer's Day

Production: Raven. Director Bert Stern; Camera Bert Stern, Ray Phelan, Courtney Hafela; Editor Aram Avakian; Music Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Seymour Simons, Gerald Marks, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1959. Running time: 78 MIN.

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