Film Review: Jazz on a Summer’s Day


Louis Armstrong

To put it kindly, concert films can be hit or miss. More often than not they’re no more than a couple of cameras and just band and crowd shots. Made on the cheap to try and turn a quick profit. However, things are definitely getting better and there have always been examples that bucked this trend. Only this year we’ve been treated to the wonderful Summer of Soul, which documented the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival with such gay abandon.

Jazz on a Summer’s Day does the same for the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. Bert Stern’s documentary features performances from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O’Day, Chuck Berry and Dinah Washington. Whilst these legends perform, the camera roams around the audience, catching their rapt attentiveness and giving us a sense of the atmosphere of the event.

Jazz on a Summer’s Day is a light and relaxing film which allows you to push your problems aside for 90 minutes and just relax. It’s the kind of film which is pure enjoyment. It’s not quite on the same level of say Questlove’s festival smash or Alan Elliott’s impressive Amazing Grace, but it’s a must-see for jazz fans and a welcome distraction for curious bystanders. Jazz on a Summer’s Day is a great way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Jazz on a Summer’s Day is in cinemas from 27 August.

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