Make no mistake about it: Jazz was once dangerous. Jazz was once the music of the youth, a force as divisive as rock 'n' roll, hip-hop, EDM, and whatever is coming next.
Jazz on a Summer's Day, the 1960 documentary by fashion photographer Bert Stern about the 1958 New Port Jazz Festival, showcases a moment where the definition of jazz was expanding in radical ways. Featuring performances by Chuck Berry, Theolonius Monk, Anita O'Day, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, the Chico Hamilton Quartet and more, the film is screening Thursday, August 9, at SMoCA Lounge in Scottsdale.
"When I first watched the film, I realized that of all the art forms that can document, only photography and filmmaking can record a 'moment in time,'" says SMoCA curator Steve Weiss. "A painting might show a landscape, a bronze bust bust can record a face, but neither can actually capture time."
The American Cup time trials coincided with the concert, so Stern rented a Piper Cut to film from above, focusing on the "de-segregated audience" and "some of the most lovely women on the East Coast," Weiss adds.
"There is both a fine art aesthetic and fashion photographer's eye in each frame, buttressed by amazing and uniquely filmed jazz performances and scenes of the idle rich and their Newport, Rhode Island, surroundings," Weiss says. "It is the perfect summer movie."
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Jazz on a Summer's Day screens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, at SMoCA Lounge in Scottsdale.