One of my favourite films of all time has received a sparkling restoration which allows performances from Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan and Anita O’Day – among many others – to shine just as they did on that sunny day back in 1958, at the Newport Jazz Festival.
It’s a filmed document of what happened when fashion and magazine photographer Burt Stern was sent to chronicle the performers and the capture the atmosphere of jazz’s hep heyday, when bebop was in full swing and hipster New Yorkers were finding jazz very chic as they relaxed in their summer getaway enclaves around Rhode Island.
Jazz was the height of fashion – just as it is now, earning the admiration of whole new audiences with a generation of players led by a London (and mainly female) vanguard, from the Queen Nubya Garcia, to Afro-beat group Kokoroko and dance-influenced brass genius Emma Jean Thackray.
So it’s with great pleasure, and with the help of Curzon Cinemas, that I got to programme, on a lovely summer’s day, this 4K restoration as part of my line up at Green Man Festival. Apart from being the concert film that set the tone for generations of the genre, from Monterrey Pop to Woodstock, The Band and Stop Making Sense to my current favourite Summer of Soul, it also stars an audience you can’t take your eyes off – I know it’s a different era but festival audiences these days need smarten up. Jazz On A Summer’s Day is a great fashion film, all those turtle necks and blazers and hats and clam diggers and it’s one of the great sunglasses movies.
I can’t quite believe it, but I was commissioned by Curzon to make a little featurette at Green Man to go with the cinema screenings of JOASD. We buzzed around in a buggy, nipping backstage to interview Kokoroko and Emma Jean and the cameraman and director Jacek shot loads of the crowd and the atmosphere in homage to Burt Stern’s B-roll of yachts and dancers.
So it’s a double joy, to see JOASD back on the big screen and looking so swell and to have contributed a little jazz of my own to on-going story of this great doc, still looking and sounding fantastic after over 60 years.