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Herman Leonard, Noted Jazz Photographer, Dies

Photographer produced iconic images of jazz legends from nearly every era

Herman Leonard
Mark Ruffin, Kris King, Herman Leonard and Scott Thompson at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Noted jazz photographer Herman Leonard died on Saturday, August 14 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif. Leonard was 87. The cause of death was not provided, but Leonard had been battling cancer for a few years.

Leonard’s iconic images of jazz musicians from the bebop era helped to elevate those artists in the public eye. His trademark use of smoke in the foreground, particularly in his famous photos of Dexter Gordon and Billie Holiday, gave his photos a unique and strangely elegant beauty and made his work instantly recognizable. A passionate jazz and music lover, Leonard never stopped shooting musicians and performances. He could often be seen shooting away at clubs and festivals in New Orleans, his adopted hometown. He rarely went anywhere without a camera.

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