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The piece ended with one of the slide solos that only he could play - sure and skilled, sensitive and moving. If there wasn't to be more of Blind Willie Johnson's guitar and his voice, it would be difficult to think of a more fitting way for his music to fall silent - Blind Willie Johnson, last recording described by Sam Charters

Author Topic: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953  (Read 286 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2019, 06:21:21 AM »
Thanks for posting that link, Rivers.  The photos really are wonderful, and it's hard to see how they were done without a flash.  As for the one being the "best" Jazz photo ever, well . . . .
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 03:43:54 PM »
That's a good observation, John. Bob Parent was a professional who took a lot of photos, so I'm sure he had the knowledge of what worked best. The easy answer is fast film and the right processing. The difficult questions to answer are what specific film(s) and which processing techniques he actually used to get his shots to come out the way they did. I don't know what was available in 1953, so I'll defer to the experts.

Offline lindy

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2019, 01:16:42 PM »
We live in times when terms such as "the best" and "the greatest" are thrown around at will. But they sure are hard to avoid when talking about Herman Leonard and his jazz photos from the 1950s, especially the now-iconic photo of Ella Fitzgerald singing at a club with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman sitting a few feet away, and the great photo of an unsmiling Louis Armstrong (a rare instance, at least in front of a camera) taking a break in-between sets at a club in Paris in the early 60s. 

See for yourself:

https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/photographers/m6513Q/Herman-Leonard

It may be easier to find out how Leonard did his low-light non-flash work, since there's been a lot more written about him than about Bob Parent (who was a very fine photographer, I love the Monk, Parker, et al. photos!).

Lindy

Online eric

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2019, 03:15:37 PM »
Miles, Monk, Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Prez, Ben Webster, et. al. get a spin around our place most evenings.  Those Blue Note records, the photos, the whole era was high water mark in music.  They were so good.
--
Eric

Offline Johnm

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2019, 03:46:31 PM »
HI all,
I'd also rate Francis Wolff's photography very highly.  I have a great coffee table book of his photos called "The Blue Note Years--The Jazz Photography of Francis Wolff" that is spectacular.  Pretty much all of the Blue Note recording artists of that period are included in it.  It's worth seeking out.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2019, 06:02:06 PM »
And don't overlook Milt Hinton's "hobbyist" photos.

http://milthinton.com/Photo_collection.html

Offline Rivers

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2019, 07:19:45 PM »
Fast film tends to be grainy, I know having struggled to get flash-free low light shots over the years. Those shots are sharp as a tack. These days you'd use a wireless+slave setup; rig the venue beforehand with several overhead-mounted strobes and trigger them wirelessly from the camera shutter release. The players and audience tend to not notice; I assisted a pro photographer friend on a band shoot like that, the results were fabulous.

But that Open Door gig was in 1953. I have no idea what was available back then. On my box brownie, 10 years later, half the time flash bulbs didn't go off! Interesting to analyse where the light is coming from in those shots.

And yeah, I reckon that's Jack Kerouac.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 07:39:06 PM by Rivers »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2019, 09:48:34 PM »
I sent to link to the article to my son who has an interest in photography and this jumped out at him:

"The only record of the occurrence of this particular quartet was captured by Bob Parent?s Pressman Speed Graphic camera. Mr. Parent developed a signature technique that allowed him to work without flashbulbs, which performers found distracting."

Pressman and Speed Graphic are not one, but two cameras (albeit similar):

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Busch_Pressman_Model_C

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Busch_Pressman_Model_D

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Graflex_Speed_Graphic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_Graphic


It's possible--and perhaps probable--that he was using a camera with custom modifications. In addition, if he was using large format film, it is/was more light sensitive than 35mm.

By "fast," I didn't necessarily mean fastest, just faster than the common 100 rated film. It's also possible that he was using custom emulsions. It looks like they are still available, so back when film was the only medium the pros used, I'm sure there were manufacturers that would meet their needs, such as the best film for low light, no flash photography that would yield high quality negatives.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 10:34:08 AM by Stuart »

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2019, 02:04:22 PM »
My vote for "best jazz photo ever" would be the famous Great Day in Harlem shot.

Those Herman Leonard shots are fantastic, and many have become iconic. The Katrina damaged shots of Miles and Sinatra are quite striking too.

Dave

Offline Stuart

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Re: Poignant, classy NYT jazz pics and narrative, Open Door 1953
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 09:21:38 AM »
It's certainly right at the top, that's for sure. But forgetting about the usual arguments re: what criteria are used to determine "the best," I can't think of another photo in which so many talented people are assembled at one time, in one place.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 09:50:55 AM by Stuart »

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