First published in Esquire magazine in january 1959, this Art Kane portrait has to be one of the most lovely pieces of jazz history. Kane was asked to come up with a photo to open a jazz article, he just called every major New York jazz musician he knew of. It was his first professional assignment (…) On the steps of 17E on 126th street, some summer morning at 10 am, these 57 musicians showed up.
Click for large version
Harlem.org is a great site entirely dedicated to this photograph, which says something about the sheer history captured with it. You can scroll around and click the picture to pop up details like who’s who and if you click on you’ll be able to get individual artist info and so on. Learning some jazz history through one single picture.
This is probably my favorite part:
You see (from top & left to right) : Sonny Rollins, Lawrence Brown, Marian McPartland & Mary Lou Williams, Emmet Berry and Thelonious Monk. Behind the laidback looking Monk are Milt Hinton & Vic Dickinson (in the back). I’d imagine Count Basie got tired of waiting for the shot and sat his musical self down on the curb amongst the neighbourhoodkids who were just in it for the fun, legendary moment in time or not….
As a hommage to Kane’s A Great day in Harlem photographer Gordon Parks reshot the original still living artists once for Life magazine as well as this hip hop interpretation of the photograph on the same (!!) steps on 126th Street, titeled Another Great Day, for the cover of XXL magazine. In the picture people like Rakim, Busta Rhymes & Wyclef Jean. Great days in jazz and hip hop all on the same simple stoop in Harlem…