A Great Day in Harlem (film)

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A Great Day in Harlem
DVD Cover
Directed byJean Bach
Written byJean Bach
Susan Peehl
Matthew Seig
Produced byStuart Samuels
Terrell Braly
Matthew Seig
StarringQuincy Jones
Dizzy Gillespie
Sonny Rollins
Buck Clayton
Narrated byQuincy Jones
CinematographySteve Petropoulos
Edited bySusan Peehl
Distributed byCastle Hill Productions
Release date
  • September 27, 1994 (1994-09-27)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Great Day in Harlem is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Jean Bach about the photograph of the same name. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[1]

Director Jean Bach acquired an original home movie showing the 1958 photo shoot from musician Milt Hinton.[2] She used Hinton's home video as the basis for her hour-long documentary.[2] In a piece published in The New Yorker, jazz critic Whitney Balliett praised Bach's film as "a brilliant, funny, moving, altogether miraculous documentary."[2]

Jean Bach described how, upon the film's release, a number of similar photographs employed the "A Great Day in..." theme.[3] Hugh Hefner assembled Hollywood-area musicians for "A Great Day in Hollywood" in conjunction with a sneak preview of A Great Day in Harlem.[3] Soon after, "A Great Day in Philadelphia" included musicians such as Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson and Ray Bryant.[3] During the filming of Kansas City, musicians including Jay McShann posed for "A Great Day in Kansas City."[3] A multi-page supplement in The Star-Ledger featured "A Great Day in Jersey," while a Dutch photograph was titled "A Great Day in Haarlem."[3]

The trend spread to other styles of music, with Houston blues musicians posing for "A Great Day in Houston."[3] "A Great Day in Hip Hop" was followed by XXL's "The Greatest Day in Hip Hop."[3] An Atlanta radio station gathered musicians for "A Great Day in Doo-Wop."[3] A New York cellist, inspired by both the original photograph and the film, assembled chamber musicians for "A Great Day in New York."[3] The New York Post ran "A Great Day in Spanish Harlem."[3]

By 2004, The New York Times was referring to the original photograph as A Great Day in Harlem.[3]


  1. ^ "NY Times: A Great Day in Harlem". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2011. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (May 28, 2013). "Jean Bach, Jazz Documentarian and Fan, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jean Bach, Susan Peehl, and Matthew Seig (2005) [1994]. "The Copycat Photos". A Great Day in Harlem (DVD). Image Entertainment.

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