This is undeniably a one of the most significant group portraits ever to be taken marking a milestone in the history of Jazz, one of America’s greatest inventions of innovation and creativity. On a warm August morning in 1958, avid jazz-enthusiast and photographer Art Kane (April 9, 1925 – February 3, 1995) gathered 57 jazz musicians (without cell phones, Facebook, email, Twitter, etc.) in Harlem, New York for a one-of-a-kind group portrait consisting of some of the most influential figures in Jazz, including Art Blakey, Count Basie, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Mary Lou Williams, and Marian McPartland.
Although widely unfamiliar with most mainstream Jazz fans, this portrait was used as the centerfold in Esquire’s January 1959 issue, The Golden Age of Jazz. Remarkably, Kane accurately presented a large cross-section of the Jazz world from swing to cool jazz to hard bop to big band. Not to mention, this photo was taken roughly at 10AM, which is considered an ungodly hour for any hippest of hip Jazz musician at that time. Mind you, that’s usually when they go to bed after grabbing breakfast somewhere after an all-night jam session. Personally, if you’re a photographer, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, not only uses your group portrait in one of his documentary series, but makes claims that your single image is a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot (which will almost never be repeated again in history) of Jazz’s most influential figures ever to be assembled, then you’ve definitely achieved something.
Art Kane (April 9, 1925 – February 3, 1995) was born Arthur Kanofsky in New York, USA, and quickly made a name for himself as the go-to-guy for any fashion or music photography in the business. Kane has shot portraits for a number of legendary musicians, such as Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher, Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and countless more.
Kane’s work was frequently rejected by many magazines for nudity or outright irreverence, and no one could deny that his work was provocative, experimental, and even ahead of his time. In 1995, Kane committed suicide by shooting himself at the age of 69. We welcome Mr. Art Kane in our EK MAUSOLEUM.
“You have to own people…grab them, twist them into what you want to say about them…I’ve always considered myself an illustrator, a literate photographer interested in producing images that reflect the essence of an idea…I wanted to interpret the human scene rather than simply record it.”
01 – Hilton Jefferson, 02 – Benny Golson, 03 – Art Farmer, 04 – Wilbur Ware, 05 – Art Blakey, 06 – Chubby Jackson, 07 – Johnny Griffin, 08 – Dickie Wells, 09 – Buck Clayton, 10 – Taft Jordan, 11 – Zutty Singleton, 12 – Red Allen, 13 – Tyree Glenn, 14 – Miff Molo, 15 – Sonny Greer, 16 – Jay C. Higginbotham, 17 – Jimmy Jones, 18 – Charles Mingus, 19 – Jo Jones, 20 – Gene Krupa, 21 – Max Kaminsky, 22 – George Wettling, 23 – Bud Freeman, 24 – Pee Wee Russell, 25 – Ernie Wilkins, 26 – Buster Bailey, 27 – Osie Johnson, 28 – Gigi Gryce, 29 – Hank Jones, 30 – Eddie Locke, 31 – Horace Silver, 32 – Luckey Roberts, 33 – Maxine Sullivan, 34 – Jimmy Rushing, 35 – Joe Thomas, 36 – Scoville Browne, 37 – Stuff Smith, 38 – Bill Crump, 39 – Coleman Hawkins, 40 – Rudy Powell, 41 – Oscar Pettiford, 42 – Sahib Shihab, 43 – Marian McPartland, 44 – Sonny Rollins, 45 – Lawrence Brown, 46 – Mary Lou Williams, 47 – Emmett Berry, 48 – Thelonius Monk, 49 – Vic Dickenson, 50 – Milt Hinton, 51 – Lester Young, 52 – Rex Stewart, 53 – J.C. Heard, 54 – Gerry Mulligan, 55 – Roy Eldgridge, 56 – Dizzy Gillespie, 57 – Count Basie.
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