20 Shots: Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1960)


Feeling it would be impossible to do successfully, art director and photographer Bert Stern made a late decision to not travel to Newport and film the 1958 Jazz Festival, but fortunately was persuaded otherwise at the last minute. While Jazz on a Summer’s Day only features a fraction of the stunning 3 day lineup (with nice moments from Anita O’Day, Dinah Washington, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Guiffre and others), Stern’s vision was to capture the day in full 360 degrees with performance footage mixed with shots of the America’s Cup race that was ongoing nearby and, most critically, much candid photography of the concertgoers who seem blissfully unaware of the cameras trained on them even when directly lit in the evening shots. Stern let serendipity be his guide for the day, part of the formula for great jazz as well as great  documentaries.


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