One morning in 1958, Esquire magazine managed to bring together the greatest jazz musicians of the day to pose together for a large group photo. A Great Day in Harlem documents the taking of that photograph, and discuses the music that these influential musicians made. The film opens with photographer Art Kane, his assistant Steve Frankfurt, and Esquire art director Robert Benton (future director of such classics as Kramer vs. Kramer and Nobody's Fool) reminiscing about how difficult the photograph was from a logistical standpoint. Although the picture was taken at ten in the morning, many of the subjects were not used to being awake at that point in the day. While such greats as Count Basie, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk were photographed that day, the film focuses on the contribution of lesser-known names like Vic Dickenson and Henry "Red" Allen. A Great Day in Harlem was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar.
Director: Jean Bach
Writer: Jean Bach, Susan Peehl, Matthew Seig
Release date: 1995
Duration: 60 minutes