Jazz on a Summer's Day is a concert film set at the 1958 Newport jazz festival in Rhode Island, directed by commercial and fashion photographer Bert Stern and Aram Avakian, who also edited the film. The festival is held in Newport, in Fort Adams State Park and is often held the same month as the Newport Folk Festival. In 1955, the organizers were looking for a new place to host the event as the Newport Casino was not suitable for such a large gathering. Elaine Lorillard, with her husband, bought Belcourt, a large property that was available locally, hoping to host the festival there.
However, the neighborhood rejected that plan, citing concerns about possible riots. Consequently, workshops and receptions were held in Belcourt, while music was performed in Freebody Park, a sports stadium near the casino. The first Newport Jazz Festival, known as the First Annual American Jazz Festival, was held on July 17 and 18, 1954 at the Newport Casino. The two-day event featured academic roundtables and live music performances by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Lee Konitz, Eddie Condon and many more. The 1960 festival performances of Muddy Waters and Nina Simone were released as the albums At Newport 1960 and Nina Simone at Newport (1960).The couple hired jazz businessman George Wein to organize the event and help them bring jazz to the resort town.
An appreciation for jazz was not common within the established upper-class community, and the festival drew crowds of young music fans to Newport. In 1972, festival producer George Wein transplanted the festival to New York City, calling it the Newport Jazz Festival-New York. The Newport Folk Festival was started in 1959 by George Wein, founder of the well-established Newport Jazz Festival, and owner of Storyville, a jazz club located in Boston, Massachusetts. Elaine Lorillard established the festival in 1954, and she and her husband Louis Lorillard funded it for many years. That company now owns and operates the Newport festival and controls the legacy brand of the Newport Jazz Festival. On the second night of the festival, following the recording of what would be released as The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Gerry Mulligan - The Last Set at Newport on Atlantic Records, more than 12,000 people (candidates for the festival combined with young university protesters against the Vietnam War of that time) occupied the adjacent hillside crashed against the fence during Dionne Warwick's performance of What the World Needs Now Is Love. He had previously announced that the folk festival, which would be known as the George Wein Folk Festival 50, would be held from July 31 to August 2 of that year, and the jazzfestival, which would be known as the George Wein Jazz Festival 55, would be held from August 7 to 9.Thursday night's set featured performances by jazz musicians Sun Ra, Bill Evans, George Benson, Freddie Hubbard and Anita O'Day, and a jazz-jam session organized by organist Jimmy Smith and featuring Art Blakey, Hampton Hawes, Sonny Stitt and Howard McGhee. The 1958 Newport Jazz Festival was an important event in American music history.
It brought together some of jazz's greatest musicians for two days of incredible performances. It also introduced a new generation to jazz music and helped to spread its popularity across America.