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Art Kane: Harlem 1958: The 60th Anniversary Edition

Released on 12 November Art Kane: Harlem 1958 marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most celebrated images in American history.
Now commonly known as A Great Day in Harlem, the famous shot of 57 jazz musicians gathered outside a brownstone in New York is one of the most imitated images in popular culture, by one of the world’s greatest photographers.
Art Kane: Harlem 1958 is a visual history of an iconic image including, for the first time, virtually every single frame from the historic shoot. With original text by Art Kane, forewords by Quincy Jones, the legendary Benny Golson, who appears in the photo, and an introduction by Kane’s son, musician and photographer Jonathan Kane, the 168-page hardback volume is the story behind the shot.
“I came up with the idea of getting as many musicians together in one place as we could. It would be sort of a graduation photo or class picture of all the jazz musicians. After I thought about it some more I decided they should get together in Harlem. After all, that’s where jazz started when it came to New York.” Art Kane
In 1958 fledgling photographer Art Kane pitched the idea to Esquire – invite the musicians of New York’s jazz community to come together for one photo. Esquire agreed and Kane sent requests via agents, record labels, managers, clubs, anywhere he could spread the word.
“There was going to be an unusual shooting of a photograph for Esquire Magazine and I was being invited to be a part of it. I couldn’t believe it! Nobody really knew me that early in my career. But zippo, I was there on the intended date. When I arrived, there were all of my heroes.” Benny Golson
57 jazz musicians, from the unknown to the world famous, duly assembled at the unlikely hour of 10am at 7 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues.  The group would include Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie – whose hat was repeatedly stolen by local kids until Kane surrendered and put them in the shot, too.
“Black and white: two colors forbidden to be in close proximity, yet captured so beautifully within a single black and white frame. The importance of this photo transcends time and location, leaving it to become not only a symbolic piece of art, but a piece of history. During a time in which segregation was very much still a part of our everyday lives, and in a world that often pointed out our differences instead of celebrating our similarities, there was something so special and pure about gathering 57 individuals together, in the name of jazz.” Quincy Jones
Esquire magazine published the photo in its January 1959 Golden Age of Jazz special issue, along with a series of Art Kane’s portraits of other jazz giants including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lester Young and his famous shot of Charlie Parker’s grave. These portraits are included in the book, with outtakes and other jazz-related images of gospel groups and a young Aretha Franklin, and on set photography of the film “Pete Kelley’s Blues”.
Published in November 2018 by Wall of Sound Editions, Art Kane: Harlem 1958 honors a pivotal moment in American history through the work of one of its most celebrated photographic voices. The launch of the book will be accompanied by a series of events and exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, London and in Italy. For further information and updates visit www.wallofsoundgallery.com.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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