Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jazz Photography

Louis Armstrong, Carnegie Hall, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947
Over at Business Insider, you'll find a little slide show I put together which showcases the jazz photographs of the great William P. Gottlieb. All 1,600 of his photos are now being featured on Flickr, courtesy of The Library of Congress.

If you haven't done so already, you should check them out. Most of the images that you have in your head of jazz in the late '30s through to the late '40s were probably taken by Gottlieb. As I say in the introduction to the slide show, jazz, and jazz photography, would not be the same without him.

The night before I wrote that introduction, I happened to have started Geoff Dyer's great book, "But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz." In an introductory section to the book, called "A Note on Photographs," Dyer writes, toward the end: "The best jazz photographs are those saturated in the sound of their subject." I loved that quote, even if it's not true.

So much so that I put it into my introduction.


  1. These are great. My favourite photograph of all time is one of Gerry Mulligan and Anita O'Day sharing a cigarette backstage at Newport. I can't find it on the internet, but I think you'd like it.

    1. Aren't they? I couldn't find that picture either, and have never seen it. Sounds like a good one, though.