Herman Leonard Jazz Giants
Herman Leonard
Jazz Giants May 4 - August 31, 2007

Great music inspires listeners to feel. We emotionally react when we hear the hook or melody of an exceptional song. Rarely, however, are listeners given the opportunity to witness the experience of the musician as great music is being made. Distinguished photographer Herman Leonard has captured these moments in his photographs of the some of the most imaginative and expressive musicians that have ever lived. Jackson Fine Art is thrilled to exhibit Jazz Giants, a selection of Leonard’s photographs of jazz’s biggest legends, including Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespe, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Leonard’s personal love of jazz music drew him to the New York nightclubs in the 1940s and 50s, but his camera was his ticket inside. He wanted “to make people see the way music sounded.” The result was a simultaneous unleashing of creative power—released through sound, song, and the click of Leonard’s camera. His creative use of lighting, profiles, and camera angles were surely inspired by jazz’s own experimental nature. Leonard’s personal admiration for his subjects is evident in the photographs taken in between moments on stage. His visual record of jazz music is, in concert, the personification of a musical epoch as well as a profound body of art. The Smithsonian Institution owns the entire Images of Jazz series in its permanent collection. Devastatingly, Leonard lost over six thousand photographs as well as his New Orleans studio during Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to salvage his life’s work and the story of jazz are documented in the film Saving Jazz.  Leonard claims “to be present when the artist actually creates his work is a profound privilege.” It can be assumed that the jazz legends in Leonard’s photographs feel the same way about him.

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