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The Jazz Pictures by Carol Friedman

Of all the art forms, music remains the most ethereal, ephemeral, elusive. Before the phonograph, it was passed on musician-to-musician, archived in notations or memories. It was inevitable that this vibrational art would inspire/challenge photographers (an equally “magical” art) to chase and capture its essence in revelatory images. It’s no accident either that the most evocative, visceral and iconic photographs have been of jazzers, on-stage and off.

For more than two decades, Carol Friedman has tried to reveal jazz’s spirit-cosmic wonder, beauty and sheer life force through black and white studio portraiture of masters past and present. Judging by the stunning images compiled here-Dexter Gordon, all weary elegance on a disheveled bed; Nina Simone, first resplendent in satin like an African queen, then close-cropped in I-don’t-take-no-shit-arched-eyebrow scowl; a gaunt, unshaven Chet Baker frozen like a deer in the glare of Friedman’s strobe; Don Pullen bathed in celestial sunlight, looking like a very hip Shaolin monk-Friedman more than accomplished her goal. Jazz Pictures is to be treasured.

Originally Published