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Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959) at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center

12 May

On Friday ┬ánight the New Jersey Performing Arts Center screened Jazz on a Summer’s Day ( in the Victoria Theatre. The feature-length documentary captured the spirit and highlights of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

It was a little magical to be able to see and hear the giants who performed at the festival that year: Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Pops, Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, Chuck Berry or Mahalia Jackson…

The screening was followed by a lovely panel discussion with none other than Woody Shaw III, Jimmy Cobb, Bill Charlap and Stanley Crouch. Jimmy Cobb, who played at the festival that year (with Miles Davis!), explained that all the musicians were trying to play better than everybody else, and that the level was unparalleled.

The interviewer for the panel explained that the filmmaker put a lot of his own money into the film, and that at the time he was only 28.

Some audience members asked where jazz was heading now, and whom one should listen to. Cobb explained that at the time, musicians had Pops, Eric Dolphy and Miles, and that meant that they had ‘everything.’