Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the late-night party for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and grab a table. There are still a few left. We’re going to start the show any minute now. There’s no cover charge tonight. Tell us if there’s anything we can do to make you evening more comfortable. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
The Cubs beat the Blue Jays, 7-5 tonight to salvage one game of the three games in Canada and earn the Cubs their first .500 month since May of last year.
Last night I asked you what your favorite 2022 Cubs uniform was. It really came down to just two choices as the other three just got a handful of votes combined. But with 58 percent, you think those Cubs’ “Field of Dreams” uniforms are a winner. Another 33 percent of you picked the standard home white pinstripe uniforms. I generally don’t vote in these polls, but I think this is a sign that the Cubs should adopt some kind of alternate uniform on a regular basis with the “standing bear” logo. I don’t want it to replace the red “C,” but I would like to see it used more as an alternate look.
Here’s the part where I talk about movies and jazz. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Tonight is our last night of paying tribute to the late Joey DeFrancesco, master of the Hammond organ, who left us way too early last week. I’ve got one video of him from 2003 playing the jazz standard “Misty” in his hometown Philadelphia studio with Larry Carlton on guitar, Chris Farr on saxophone, Gerald Veasley on bass and Byron Landham on drums. This one swings.
And finally, a bonus track. I’ve played this one in the past, but it seems appropriate that I play it again here in final tribute. Here’s DeFrancesco playing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” back in 2008.
Tonight’s film is 1959’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day, which is a documentary of one day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. While it isn’t the first concert film, Jazz on a Summer’s Day re-invented the genre into something that we know today. Certainly Monterey Pop and especially Woodstock owe a lot to Jazz on a Summer’s Day in the way filmmakers approach a music event. This film uses the music on the stage to document not just the musicians, but the people in the stands, the kids playing in the fields, the workers setting up and people generally just hanging around Rhode Island. (The film takes a trip to the harbor for people getting ready to watch qualifying heats for the America’s Cup yacht races while the music plays at one point.) All the while, they do this in some glorious technicolor. This is a great-looking film for a music documentary.
Directors Bert Stern and Aram Avakian took a very different approach because they weren’t traditional documentary film makers. While Avakian was a film editor (and huge jazz fan), Stern actually came from the world of fashion photography. (He later went on to shoot Marilyn Monroe’s final photo session for Vogue.)
The film was the idea of Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein, who wanted to had wanted to capture the festival on film for years. He felt he never could because all of the artists were signed to different record labels and there were rights issues to all the music. But after meeting Stern, Stern told him to just shoot it and ask for the rights later, figuring that the artists and their labels would see the performances and then see the wisdom in letting the film come out. That strategy worked.
Stern really brought his eye for fashion and lighting to this film. Certainly he shoots the knockout hat and dress that Anita O’Day is wearing on-stage beautifully, but he also takes the time to shoot what people in the crowd are wearing or even the people backstage. That’s been a criticism of the film over the years—that the film concentrates too much on the crowd and the “event” and not enough on the music. But I think that was the right decision. The reactions of the crowd repeatedly feed back to the music on stage and vice-versa. (Probably a lot more on film than in real life, I admit.) Even watching children play in the fields while the music plays on in the background emphasizes the joy that everyone is having.
I’d say the film had a lot of elements of a television commercial, and I mean that in a positive sense. You know how commercials try to show people having a great time and then associate their product with the joy they are all feeling? That’s what Stern and Avakian do here. Additionally, the musicians are mostly shot at a very low angle. I think that’s probably because it’s where the cameras could set up off the stage and where the lighting looked best, but it has the effect of making the musicians look larger than life. That’s good ad copy. If these men and women look like giants, that’s because they were.
The music in the film is very good, although with a few exceptions, it’s not exactly cutting-edge jazz even for 1958. It’s mostly mainstream stuff. But it’s being performed by some of the giants of the field. Louis Armstrong is of course the biggest name here, but there is also Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Stitt, the previously-mentioned O’Day and others. In the non-jazz performances, a young Chuck Berry gets up and plays “Sweet Little Sixteen” and every essay on Jazz on a Summer’s Day mentions the performance of gospel titan Mahalia Jackson, who ends the film with a beautiful gospel music version of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
People have praised Jazz on a Summer’s Day as a portrait of Eisenhower’s America. Ironically, critics have also attacked it as a portrait of Eisenhower’s America. I guess your opinion of mid-century America is going to color your interpretation of the film. Certainly there’s a very integrated stage playing for a mostly (although not completely) white audience. Personally, I thought the film was gorgeous to look at and fun to listen to. Isn’t that what we ask for out of a film?
Here’s Anita O’Day’s performance in the film, singing “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Tea for Two.” This is a great example of Stern’s eye for the fashion of the event. Years later, O’Day would claim to remember almost nothing of the show because she was strung out on heroin while she was performing that day. I wonder what she would have been like sober.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies. Or tonight, the double dose of jazz.
With Brendon Little and Jeremiah Estrada making their major-league debuts in Toronto, the Cubs have used 60 players this season, which is just shy of the major-league record of 69 players used by the (checks article) 2021 Cubs. The Cubs have 31 games left this season and need to have ten more players make their season debut with the Cubs to break their own record.
Tonight’s question is simple. Will the Cubs use 70 players this year? The rosters expand to 28 players on September 1, so that opens up the possibility for two more players to make their debut on Friday. They could bring back someone who’s already played for the team, of course.
So will the Cubs roster hit 70 players for 2022?
Will the Cubs set a new record with 70 players this season?
This poll is closed
Thank you for joining us this week and digging the music. We hope we’ve made your week a little more pleasant. I hope you join us again next week and bring some friends. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And we’ll see you next week for another set of shows at BCB After Dark.