“A Great Day in Harlem” is one of the iconic images in jazz. A crowd of dapper musicians spills down the steps of a New York brownstone, and a row of kids sits along the curb in front of them.
In 1958, the New York jazz scene was electric, with busy clubs and enthusiastic fans. Old masters and young talent shared stages, exploring everything from traditional big band to avant garde free jazz.
A young photographer named Art Kane wanted to capture the spirit of the time, so he put out a call for a group photo in Harlem. The photo shoot was at ten in the morning, and he feared nobody would show up.
Instead, a sizeable representation of the jazz community turned out for the photo—57 musicians, including many of the greats: Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Marian McPartland, Gerry Mulligan, Mary Lou Williams, Milt Hinton, Dizzy Gillsepie, and Thelonious Monk. The photo is a moment of jazz history caught and preserved. Of those in the photograph, only Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins are alive today.
Now it’s our turn!
“A Great Day in Winnipeg” takes place Saturday, September 13 at 1:00 pm. The call is out for jazz musicians, young and old, professional and amateur, to gather for a big group photo on the steps of the new stadium.
We’re extending the invitation to the many vigorous supporters of jazz, too—fans, teachers, parents, donors. This community is only possible because of your enthusiasm and care.
It’s our history! Show up, smile (or frown), and be counted as part of our own dynamic jazz scene!
(With some luck—and the generosity of a vendor or two—large format versions of the photo will be available for purchase at the Rent Party on November 16.)