We gave it an A-
The richness of the Oscar-nominated documentary A Great Day in Harlem — a must for any jazz library — grows more evident with each viewing. With rare insight, producer Jean Bach transforms one famous 1958 Esquire photo of 58 jazz artists into a window onto the whole jazz scene. Adroitly mixing photos taken before and after the selected print with bassist Milt Hinton’s home movies of the shoot, as well as interviews with survivors, the film evokes the sense of community and strong individuality that are integral to jazz. Stunning musical samples of such idiosyncratic past masters as Roy Eldridge, Thelonious Monk, and Red Allen make many of today’s young lions seem tame by comparison.