With summer on it’s way, it’s time to load up on some seasonally appropriate movies. Something to sit back and enjoy with a cool glass of something or other on a lazy, hot day. If you’re looking for something new to add to your old favorites, check out this cool documentary, 1960’s Jazz on A Summer’s Day. Directed by fashion photographer Bert Stern it’s a beautiful recording of the 1958 Newport Jazz festival.
It just so happens that in ’58, the Newport Fest coincided with the America’s Cup, the world’s premiere yacht race. Stern juxtaposes these two events in a loose, laid-back manner with an eye toward picturesque cinematography, capturing an evocative time capsule of a bygone era. There are families relaxing on shore, young adults on tranquil sailboats, and awesome 1950’s teenagers dancing up a storm. It’s all set to fantastic live jazz performances from all-time greats like Thelonius Monk, Dinah Washington, and Louis Armstrong, not to mention slightly lesser known players like Jimmy Giuffre and Chico Hamilton. Even jazz-haters can find something to like here, with out-of-place but not unwelcome performances from Chuck Berry and Mahalia Jackson.
Part concert film, part visual poem, Jazz on a Summer’s Day, is a really enojyable, relaxing viewing experience that definitely put a smile on my face. There’s no dialogue to speak of and no talking heads telling you how to feel about what you’re seeing. It’s just beautiful music and excellent, serene imagery (remember that the director has a background in photography) – probably perfect for putting on in the background at a social gathering. If you are a fan of 1950s fashions, this film comes highly recommended. Perhaps my favorite part was seeing all the cool outfits and styles on show at the Festival and the America’s Cup. The whole experience makes the viewer feel warm and nostalgic. It’s a great time!