Thursday, May 28, 2009

AccuJazz News: Roll-Out Continues With "A Great Day in Harlem"

It's new channel time again, and this week's is very unique: the common factor uniting the artists is not a time period, style, or instrument, but a historic photograph. It's the "Great Day in Harlem" photo. You know the one, right? Well, In case you don't, here it is:

Here's the story behind it: in 1958, a young photographer named Art Kane was assigned by Esquire Magazine to produce a photo to open an article about jazz. Looking back, Kane said he was young and naive to have believed that his ambitious plan could have been practical, but he went for it anyway and succeeded. He attempted to get every major jazz musician in New York to the same spot on 126th Street in Harlem at 10 a.m. Amazingly, 57 of them showed up, resulting in a photograph still unparalleled today in terms of cumulative jazz talent. While some of the musicians present never gained extremely wide name recognition, most of the people in the photo belong on a list of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.

A shortlist of legends present in the photo includes Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Art Blakey, Marian McPartland, Gene Krupa, Mary Lou Williams, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Rushing, Benny Golson, Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Griffin, Hank Jones, Sonny Greer, Jo Jones, Milt Hinton, Oscar Pettiford, Dicky Wells and Pee Wee Russell.

The AccuJazz channel is playing recordings from throughout the careers of these magnificent players, from early Count Basie to Sonny Rollins's 2008 release, and lots of other great music in between.

The photo has attained legendary status, with an Academy Award-Nominated documentary about it, and even a starring role in a Spielberg movie. It was the first photo Art Kane took in his professional career, and he went on to become a very successful photographer, taking iconic pictures of rock musicians like The Who, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

The idea for this channel actually came from fellow AccuRadio employee Paul Maloney. Thanks Paul! Give it a listen and let me know what you think, either here, or on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, or the ShoutBox on the AccuJazz homepage.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    there's also a fantastic book on that story behind the photo. It was among my birthday presents some years ago. It's a great pleasure to read, and it also contains some pictures shot by Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Hinton on the very same day.

    Best, and don't forget Benny Goodman's 100th Birthday.