My boyfriend is a big jazz fan. He started getting into it a few years ago when he took up the trumpet. Even though I played the trumpet 3 years in junior high school and was in Jazz Band, I was convinced that I never really knew much about the music and had never been overly interested in it. It wasn’t hard getting exposure to it, since he listened, played and read about all the time. And it wasn’t long until I realized the importance and popularity of the songs I played in Jazz Band. I finally learned what Mack the Knife was about and that ‘What a Wonderful World’ isn’t what made Louis Armstrong famous. I learned about musicians and singers, watched movies and documentaries, and bought books that helped catch me up to speed on what I had been ignorant about for so long.
So that started my love of jazz and, I guess you could say, a great history lesson into music. Apple pie and baseball may be American pastimes, but nothing else can claim to be born in America and enjoyed worldwide.
This photo, entitled A Great Day in Harlem, was shot by Art Kane in 1958. The idea was to create a group portrait of living legendary jazz musicians (57 are featured) on a Harlem street. It turned out to be one of the most iconic portraits in music, if not photography. The one question I have, though, is why people like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, to name a few, aren’t there. I simply think that some of these musicians weren’t from NY, or in NY at the time of this shoot, and they just couldn’t make it.
Not all of the faces are clear enough to identify by name, if you even know all of them. But fortunately, Art Kane’s site (click the ‘harlem’ link at the top to see this photo) enables visitors to roll over each person and see their name in the lower right hand corner.