Posts Tagged ‘Thelonious Monk’

Louis Armstrong

“JAZZ ON A SUMMER’s DAY”  My rating: B

85 minutes | No MPAA rating

There’s no shortage of reasons to catch the current reissue of 1959’s “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,”  with superb music and spectacularly good photography at the top of the list.

But at a time when most of us are spending way too many hours sequestered in our homes, Bert Stern and Aram Avakian’s record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival also hits an achingly romantic note,  taking us back to an era when it was safe for hundreds of us to assemble to hear music played by racially integrated bands.

1969’s Woodstock Fest may have been billed as “three days of peace and music,” but the Newport event a decade earlier delivered pretty much the same vibe…minus, of course, public nudity and drug sampling.

The performances captured here (the film spawned a best-selling soundtrack LP back in the day) provide a sort of Who’s Who of ’50s jazz.  They range from the New Orleans-steeped blowing of Louis Armstrong to the white-girl scatting of Anita O’Day (a knockout in black dress, feathered hat and white gloves), from the intellectually-rich piano stylings of Thelonious Monk to the early-rock glory of a duck-walking Chuck Berry. There’s even a touch of gospel glory courtesy of Mahalia Jackson.

(Of interest to KC area jazz fans:  Look for local boys Bob Brookmeyer, Buck Clayton and Basie alumnus Jo Jones playing with various configurations.)


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