Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Day in Harlem

Fifty years ago today,
photographer Art Kane (1925-1995) created one of the most famous photographs in jazz. Fifty-eight jazz artists (55 men, 3 women) crowded onto the staircase of a brownstone in Harlem at 10:00 in the morning. There would have been fifty-nine but Willie "The Lion" Smith got tired of standing (and left a hole in the second row).

A copy of Kane's Harlem 1958 hangs on a wall at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul. In January of this year, I snapped a photo of AQ owner Kenny Horst, doorman extraordinaire Davis Wilson, HH, pianist Jon Weber, and an unidentified fan standing before it, trying to identify the seven artists still alive today.

The Art Kane Web site has a special page where you can zoom in and see the names of every artist in the photograph. Sonny Rollins was just 27 on that day. He is one of the survivors. Saxophonist Johnny Griffin died on July 25, so now there are six: Benny Golson, Hank Jones, Eddie Locke, Marian McPartland, Rollins, and Horace Silver.

See Alan Kurt's article "Jazz's Most Iconic Photo Is Half a Century Old" in

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