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DVD: Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960)
Review Rating:   Poor  
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Charly/Snapper Music (Germany)
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0 (NTSC)

September 10, 2001



Genre: Documentary / Jazz  
Impressionistic, improvised documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.  



Directed by:

Bert Stern
Screenplay by: Albert D'Annibale, Arnold Perl
Music by: various
Produced by: Bert Stern

Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Gerry Mulligan, Dinah Washington, Chico Hamilton, Anita O'Day, George Shearing, Jimmy Guiffre, Chuck Berry, Jack Teagarden, Thelonious Monk, Big Maybelle, Sonny Stitt, Eli's Chosen Six, David Bailey, Danny Barcelona, Bob Brookmeyer, Buck Clayton, Bill Crow, Eric Dolphy, Art Farmer, Terry Gibbs, Urbie Green, Henry Grimes, Jim Hall, Max Roach, and Sal Salvador.

Film Length: 77 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:  Re-chaneled English Dolby 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Mono
Special Features :  

Text Introduction / Making-of Text Notes / 13 Text Bio Sketches / Making-of Featurette: A Summer's Day with Bert Stern (29:18) viewable separately or with onscreen icon / Bonus Expanded soundtrack CD / 4-page colour booklet

Comments :

Note: for a complete review of the film and New Yorker Region 1 release, click HERE.


In Europe (England and Germany), Jazz on a Summer's Day was released as a special 2-disc set, with Disc one bearing the film and extras, and Disc 2 offering the same contents as the Charley soundtrack CD, plus 8 bonus tracks - basically the short practice sets, announcements, and brief Dixieland jazz songs performed by Eli's Chosen 6, which underscored the partying interludes between the day and nighttime concerts.

Derived from the original mono soundtrack, the CD is a tightly edited album with all of the music sets (including some brief radio show overlays as they appeared in the film's soundtrack), and the album tracks and bonus material are catalogued on the back of the DVD's 4-page booklet.

The Charly release replicates the making-of featurette and 4 outtakes, although the outtakes aren't separately indexed in a gallery as on the New Yorker DVD. Unique to the Charly DVD are some detailed text notes, and really engaging bios for 13 of the film's amazing musicians.

The disc's menu system is also simplified and better organized, and unlike the New Yorker release, the chapter menu can be accessed only after playing the film, with detailed indexes for every music set - a very handy feature. In addition to the Dolby 5.1 tweak is the retention of the original mono soundtrack - not printed on the DVD sleeve, but definitely present on the Charly disc as a falsely branded 2.0 stereo mix.

It all sounds perfect - a Region 0 NTSC special edition with attractive sleeve design - except the film transfer is a mess. Stern's making-of featurette is clearly taken from an NTSC master, and has the same gorgeous film extracts as in the New Yorker transfer, but Charly's feature film source is an NTSC master converted to PAL and bumped back to NTSC - a completely idiotic decision.

The film speed is faster (running 77 mins. and not 95 mins. as the DVD sleeve states), the colours are dry and wan, and the picture sharpness resembles an old, wringy 3/4" U-Matic tape. The only qualms about the New Yorker DVD is the loss of the original mono mix and a convoluted menu system, whereas everything about the Charly set is perfect, except the film itself. Fans of the film are better off picking up the New Yorker disc, although the low price of the Charly set buys you some great extras, and a bonus CD that's currently a pricey UK import.


© 2006 Mark R. Hasan

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