The Jazz Image
Seeing Music through Herman Leonard's Photography
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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Herman Leonard’s photographs are some of the most recognized images in jazz history. His depictions of predominantly African American jazz musicians in New York City have created not only a visual record of jazz in the 1950s, but have also become the standard by which the musical style of jazz was, and continues to be, visually represented. His photographs have, in...
CHAPTER 1. The Formation of the Jazz Image in Visual Culture
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The general consensus of a mental picture of a jazz musician would be a well-dressed African American man playing an instrument, most likely a saxophone or a trumpet, with smoke wafting about the stage on which he is playing at a nightclub. With majors ranging from nursing to corporate communication, my own university students described their ideas of...
CHAPTER 2. The Construction of Signs in Jazz Photography
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How can a picture represent a style of music? What image comes to mind when we think about a musical genre? With classical music, one generally imagines an instrument such as a flute or violin, the thunderous sounds of a symphony orchestra playing the music of Beethoven, or Mozart at the clavichord in the movie Amadeus. With pop music, one imagines the facial makeup of Kiss, the Beatles’ album covers, or jeans, a cowboy hat, ...
CHAPTER 3. Ceci n’est pas jazz: The Battle for Ownership
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After the free jazz and fusion eras of the 1960s and 1970s, the pendulum of musical taste shifted from the avant-garde scene to more traditional norms of mainstream jazz. The fusion era seemingly ran its course, and a new generation of musicians pursued the musical standards of bop in the early 1980s and dedicated their albums to past heroes such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Lester Young. This resurgence in the 1980s of the classic...
CHAPTER 4. A “Style Portrait” of the Avant-Garde
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The image of jazz today is a complex one that comes from several sources. As we have learned in the previous chapters, Leonard’s resurfacing photographs have played a significant role in determining the current composition of the jazz image today. Complementary to Leonard, neoclassicism has blossomed under the support of the jazz community and the general public through endowments, documentaries, commercials, recording contracts, ...
CONCLUSION: The Visual Image of Jazz
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Music is always changing. It changes because of the times and the technology that’s available, the material that things are made of, like plastic cars instead of steel. So when you hear an accident today it sounds different, not all the metal colliding like it was in the forties and fifties. Musicians pick up sounds and incorporate that into their playing, so the music that they make will be different. New instruments like synthesizers...
APPENDIX A: Herman Leonard Timeline 1923 to 2008
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APPENDIX B: List of Exhibitions for Herman Leonard’s Photography
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010