A Great Day in Harlem
Cert: U Year: 1994 Length: 60 mins
Score: 79.17% Attendance: 28
A print of that black-and-white photograph, one of the most famous in jazz history, had for years hung in the office of Jean Bach's husband, Bob, a television executive. On the stoop or standing in front of it were Count Basie, Lester Young, Gene Krupa, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Marian McPartland, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Mary Lou Williams and 44 other musicians (along with children from the neighbourhood).
The late great bassist, Milt Hinton, who is one of the warmest and most charming people interviewed, was also a fine photographer. His wife captured much of the Great Day with a color 8mm movie camera, and it's a treat to see the ensemble milling about on the street and taking their places for the final picture.
Many of the people in the photo are not and never were household names. But the musicians Jean Bach tracked down to give their reminiscences are quick to give them their due. They recognize their skill and talent and recall the personalities of their lesser-known counterparts; the jazzmen really did warm up to Jean Bach if they didn't already know her, and they ended up talking about everything.
Jean Bach does the seemingly impossible with A Great Day in Harlem. She makes a 40-year-old B&W photograph come alive.
a brilliant, funny, moving, altogether miraculous documentary.
Whitney Ballet, New Yorker Jazz Critic
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