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A GREAT DAY IN HARLEM (1994)

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In August of 1958, 57 of the greatest jazz musicians of all-time gathered on the steps of a Harlem brownstone for a photograph. This is a film about the most famous photograph in jazz history.  It is also a love note to this art form. The film was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. 

The musicians in the photo represented the full spectrum of jazz history from Dixieland to Big Band Swing, from Harlem Stride, to Modern Bebop. Sidemen, innovators, young lions, and old masters were all there.

As of January 2016, only two of the 57 musicians who participated are still living (Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins).





Photographer Art Kane took the most wonderful photograph in jazz history
Kane, a freelance photographer was on assignment for Esquire magazine, and he took the picture at around 10 a.m. on 12 August 1958 at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue in Harlem. Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. In 1994 a TV documentary was made as to how this incredible photo came to be taken, one that Quincy Jones calls, “An astonishing photograph.”
What makes this photo so extraordinary is that it was Art Kane’s first photo shoot; he was an art director for various New York magazines. He was given the chance and it was Kane’s idea to take the photo in Harlem, a risk on many levels, not least trying to get everyone together in one place at 10 a.m. in the morning. As Kane said, he had no studio, so he had no choice. Gerry Mulligan didn’t believe anyone would show up…it was way too early.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 October 2016 08:27

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