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Jazz On A Summer’s Day Blu-ray Review

“Jazz On A Summer’s Day” is a classic music documentary.

1959’s “Jazz On A Summer’s Day” is a documentary/concert film from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. While a majority of the screentime is devoted to performances by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Dinah Washington, Herry Mulligan, Mahalia Jackson, Anita O’Day, and Chuck Berry, director Bert Stern also turns the camera on Newport, Rhode Island city life, performers outside of the festival, people soaking in the summer season, as well as footage of America’s Cup boat race which was happening simultaneously in the city.

For fans of Jazz music, “Jazz On A Summer’s Day” is a joyous celebration of the music art form. For those that haven’t delved into Jazz or are curious about it, this doc/concert film might be the gateway to Jazz that you have been looking for. 

There’s a reason why this is often cited as one of the best music documentaries and concert films- it’s because it’s true. Not only is it a perfect snapshot of a time and a place in America, but it perfectly captures the power of Jazz and live music. You don’t even need to see the crowd’s reaction (or dances) to feel and be moved by the music presented here particularly with the music stylings of showstoppers such as Anita O’Day and the legendary Louis Armstrong. Yes, there are other genres of music being played with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (who closes out the film) and rocker Chuck Berry (who is about to usher in a whole new era of music) taking the stage, but at its heart this is a movie about Jazz and a Jazz Festival (which has since become a summer tradition in the United States).

As for the rest of the film, there was something heartwarming about seeing a city so alive in this movie. In these dark and troubled times, it’s nice to be reminded that people did (and will again) embrace life and music and live their best life. It seems obvious I know, but it’s hard not to think about when watching this cinematic treasure.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K restoration gives the film a stunning new print.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The electric performances sound super crisp with this 2.0 track.

* A booklet with photos, credits and an essay by author/former Jazz Critic Nate Chinen.
* A short archival interview with director Bert Stern.
* “Bert Stern: Original Madman”- A 2011 documentary on the filmmaker.
* “Jazz On A Summer’s Day” trailer.
* Louis Armstrong and contact sheets of photo still galleries.
* A passionate commentary by music journalist Natalie Weiner although there are some silent spots. 

February 13, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

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