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Jazz by Herman Leonard

Guy Anglade reviews new book of jazz photographs by the late Herman Leonard

Herman Leonard

The history of jazz is incomplete without recognizing the revered photographs of Herman Leonard. For over four decades, before mass media introduced jazz in postwar America, Leonard transfixed audiences with his prints: displaying a heavy and extensive use of smoke, light and shadow, using slow-speed film stock, and plenty of close-up shots of musicians playing in action (or away from their musicianship). It captured a crucial moment in the development of jazz and signified the emotional content and sensory mood of the music.

In the latest photo collection, Jazz, it features Herman’s most memorable (and unseen) images taken between 1948 and 1991 from many cities (New York, Paris, New Orleans, and, his short time in California) during the early beginnings of bebop and several brief essays on Herman’s photo technique. Because of his untimely death from leukemia last August, Leonard’s reputation carries a significant meaning behind the subject matter.

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