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Various Artists: A Great Day in Harlem

One of the most beloved jazz documentaries ever gets the deluxe treatment in this two-DVD edition. The film documents the famous 1958 Art Kane photograph for Esquire that featured 57 jazz musicians posed in front of a Harlem brownstone. Director Jean Bach (who was a complete novice when she undertook this project) manages to bring the photo to life through interviews with many of the people who were there that day.

Bonuses include a documentary about making the film that’s almost as fascinating as the main feature. The charming Bach had to fight through a lot of failing memories to get to the true story about that Harlem day. The outtakes showing a hard-of-hearing Art Blakey misidentifying fellow musicians and claiming the brownstone was his (it wasn’t) are a bit sad, and Bud Freeman is shown to be particularly rambling.

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