Jazz on a Summer’s Day, the concert film that set the stage for the rest to follow, has been newly restored and re-released in theatres, virtual cinemas and drive-ins for its 60th anniversary.
In 1958, photographer Bert Stern went to the Newport Jazz Festival and captured the fabled performances by an array of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson.
Jazz on a Summer’s Day is often considered to be the first feature-length concert film ever made, leading the way for others like Monterey Pop in 1968 and Woodstock in 1970. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 1999.
Filmed in colour and directed by Stern, Jazz on a Summer’s Day features close-up shots of the performers along with plenty of backstage footage. Upon its release in 1960, The New York Times called the film “as generous a dish of top jazz music as any cat could take in one gulp.”
Funded by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, the new 4K restoration by IndieCollect enhances the soundtrack and camerawork, bringing an enhanced edition of the film to a wider audience.
The film is now streaming at hotdocs.ca.