A Great Day in Harlem
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A Great Day in Harlem is a wonderful documentary about a seemingly ho-hum subject -- the taking of a photograph. Even when the photograph in question involves some of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived, building a film around a static subject like a photograph is not an easy task. Jean Bach's achievement lies in making this come brilliantly alive; indeed, there's a surprising buoyancy and a sprightliness to the entire enterprise that makes the film unique. True, there's a great deal of information that is imparted -- delightful little tidbits such as Maxine Sullivan having… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"If you wanted to introduce someone to what jazz is all about, this would be an ideal place to start."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
‑ , Hollywood Reporter
"The film is alive and keeps moving briskly."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"This isn't Ken Burns' jazz, but something with the spark and intuition of the real thing."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"A magnificent achievement."
‑ Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner
"For non-buffs, pic fails the acid test of exciting interest where there was little or none before; it could easily have covered the same ground in half its length."
‑ Godfrey Cheshire, Variety
"Anyone with the misconception that the spirit of a particular music is not a direct reflection of the souls of the musicians who created it must see A Great Day in Harlem, Jean Bach's small and very moving documentary about the jazz life."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Even casual fans should appreciate the film's genuine admiration for these great artists, whose lives were interwoven with their creativity and who changed the face of 20th-century music."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Combining home movies, interviews from the time, contemporary reminiscences from locals and those who took part, and fascinating performance footage, this is a joyful celebration of an extraordinary event and of jazz music in general."
‑ , Film4
"A wonderful, warm little movie."
‑ , Time Out
"It's a funny and moving film whose swinging rhythms and informal tone capture a feeling for the music, the people who make it and the affection and respect they feel for each other and the art form."
‑ Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating examination of the artistry, camaraderie and idiosyncrasies among a generation enigmatic jazz giants."
‑ Kam Williams, AALBC.com
"Wonderful documentary; great seeing all those jazz legends."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
More reviews for A Great Day in Harlem on Rotten Tomatoes