"Jazz on a Summer's Night" is nostalgic and superb filmmaking. It was shot at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, which took place in Rhode Island. It's interesting to look back so far at how it was back then. It comes from world-renowned photographers Bert Stern and Aram Avakian who also did editing on it.
The film captures highlights from the festival that year which took place in July. The word is this is one of the first concert films ever made. It was chosen to be preserved in the U.S National Film Registry in 1999.
The film let's you watch performances of some of the greatest music legends such as; Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, Thelonius Monk and Gerry Mulligan and Mahalia Jackson and her beautiful closing of The Lord's Prayer.
I loved the look back, remembering how it was. Today it is a documentary film but then this was everyday life. No masks, no need to stay away from other humans due to a virus, just plain enjoyment on a summer's night.
The film has been released in 4k restoration. It looks great. Stern and Avakian have backgrounds in fashion and music photography so they really know visuals. The film has warm coloring and is smooth, not just to listen to but to watch. You feel like you were at the festival over 60 years ago as you watch and realize how so much has changed since then, up to pandemic, and through pandemic, changes again. What we would give to be back in 1958 living our lives compared to today's reality you will think.
In the movie, you see the crowds a lot, so you imagine what it would have been like to be there decades ago. It's so interesting to watch people long ago. Being a documentary and not a feature film with actors, makes it more enjoyable as a slice of life at that time. You analyze their classic clothing, the expressions on their faces, how they moved back then, how they danced and swayed, and how their postures even differed to today. It makes you think that maybe they had it all figured out back then and if only we could shuffle back in time just to see what we were missing, maybe the pandemic has done that to us to an extent. The movie will make you quite nostalgic for what was and how life could be, even just the thought of being at a crowded open air concert on a summer night.
You will love every minute in this time capsule film and it will definitely have you appreciating each shot which now seem like so long ago. Seeing some of the greats jazz legends in one place is so rare so this film is not just for jazz lovers for for anyone who appreciates history and especially now, in a time, when that history is so beautiful to watch.