A Great Day in Harlem…

Was visiting the twitter page of the Jazz Gospel recently and their header photo was one of my all-time favourites, the Art Kane classic “A Great Day in Harlem”…

The memories that this important and iconic photo brings back, are almost too numerous to describe, Dearies.

On a summer afternoon in Harlem, in 1958, the Esquire magazine photographer Art Kane assembled a group of the greatest living Jazz musicians on a brownstone stoop on East 126th Street …

There are so many wondrous elements in this picture, not the least of which is the sense of hope and infinite possibilities for Jazz and this special Jazz family.

Wikipedia tells us “that “as of June 2014, only 2 of the 57 musicians featured in the photo, only Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins are still alive. That fact prompts a certain wistful sadness, realizing that the majority of these great men and women are no longer here with us.. Their music lives on and their legacy is carried forward by an entire new generation of Jazz musicians

Jean Bach made an outstanding Oscar-nominated documentary about the shooting of this photo in 1994. The New Yorker’s jazz critic Whitney Bailett called the film “a brilliant, funny, moving, altogether miraculous documentary.” . It contained clips from Milt Hinton’s wife Mona’s 8 mm. movie and other stills. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/film/a_great_day_in_harlem 

This is what Wikipedia tells us about who is in the photo and how it was actually shot…Great_Day_in_Harlem        

“Children in the picture

Count Basie, having grown tired of standing, sat down on the curb, and gradually a dozen children followed. Most of the children were neighborhood residents, although the second child from the right, Taft Jordan, Jr., had accompanied his father, Taft Jordan, to the photo session. The photography crew was already having trouble directing the adults, and the presence of the children added to the chaos: one of the children appearing in the window kept yelling at a sibling on the curb; another kept playing with Basie’s hat; Taft Jordan, Jr. had been scuffling with the older child seated to his left. Ultimately, Art Kane realized that any further attempt to organize the proceedings would be futile, and he decided to incorporate the subjects’ actions.” – Wikipedia

Dearies, am raising a glass of champers to each and every one of these extraordinary musicians and hope that you will join me … Cheers!

“Jazz is smooth and cool. Jazz is rage. Jazz flows like water. Jazz never seems to begin or end. Jazz isn’t methodical, but jazz isn’t messy either. Jazz is a conversation, a give and take. Jazz is the connection and communication between musicians. Jazz is abandon.”

Nat Wolff


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