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Jazz Hardcover – October 26, 2010


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Jazz + The Jazz Image: Masters of Jazz Photography + DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology)
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Check out a few interior pages from Jazz [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608193330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608193332
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9.6 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Herman Leonard was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1923. He moved to New York City in 1948 and opened his first studio in Greenwich Village, where he worked for Life, Esquire, and Playboy while recording the jazz scene. In 1989, Leonard settled in New Orleans, living there until Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home, studio, and print collection in 2005. He now lives and works in California. In 2008, Leonard was the recipient of a Lucie award-the photography world's equivalent of the Oscars—for Outstanding Achievement in Portraiture, as well as the Grammy Foundation's first grant award to a photographer.

Reggie Nadelson, journalist and film-maker, is the author of eight novels. Her nonfiction book about Dean Reed, Comrade Rockstar, is being filmed by Tom Hanks and Dreamworks. She divides her time between London and New York.
Leslie Woodhead is a documentary film maker and lifelong jazz fanatic. He made the film Saving Jazz in New Orleans with Herman Leonard.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Most of them were taken in the 1940 and 1950s.
Douglas Groothuis
If it's true that the whole point of photography AND jazz is for the artist to tell a story, Herman Leonard succeeds on every page.
W. McIntosh
"Jazz" is a fascinating and hard to put down coffee table photography book, a very highly recommended pick.
Midwest Book Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jazz is driven as much by the soul of the people as the music itself. "Jazz" is a collection of black and white photographs from Herman Leonard, famed for his photographs. Taken during the height of the 1950s Jazz period and going forward, Leonard's work captured the soul of Jazz by capturing the performers as they did their life's work and how it stayed with them even as they left the stage. "Jazz" is a fascinating and hard to put down coffee table photography book, a very highly recommended pick.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Roger Thornhill on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No one captured the essence of the seminal jazz scene of the 40's and 50's better than Herman Leonard. Dizzy, Bird, Miles, Rollins, Ella, Duke, Basie, Vaughn, Billie, Dexter - they're all here in magnificent, evocative portraits. The only thing missing from this collection is the smell of the cigarette smoke and the clanking of cocktail glasses emanating from the jazz clubs. Herman Leonard,who passed away last summer, was a true American artist in his own right. We are very fortunate that he compiled this definitive collection of his jazz photography before his passing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sadly, jazz photography is not a part of mainstream American culture today. By jazz photography, I mean photographs of jazz musicians, either playing or in other situations. Leonard's photographs are usually related to their music in some way, he also catches his subjects in other contexts. One could also speak of a jazz style of photography (whether it be of jazz itself or not) which the best jazz photographers bring to their craft. In the introduction to the book, Quincy Jones is quoted as saying, "I used to tell cats that Herman Leonard did with his camera, what we did with our instruments" (8). He was a jazz man whose instrument was the camera, and was accepted as such by the musicians he so artfully and intimately captured.

But one might argue that photography ill fits jazz, since it freezes a moment in time. There is no beat, no group improvisation, and no swing. You do not tap your foot to a photograph. That is, the musical medium of jazz may not comport with the visual medium of photography. When the medium mismatches the message, a kind of aesthetic violence is perpetrated--even when few notice.

The essence of jazz is syncopation and improvisation (usually within an ensemble, but also in solo settings) within a uniquely American tradition of the music (the origins of which are disputed in the literature). A jazz photographer faces the daunting charge of getting "into the moment" or "into the groove," to try to seize something unique, often beautiful, and evanescent. Herbert Leonard has achieved this arcane art in black and white photographs, spanning a half decade.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neil The Unreel on September 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
To actually get a look into the world of the Jazz artist in the 50's, 60's and better, is one thing, but the style in which Leonard delievers it, is another thing entirely. View the book for it's style and one of the most striking things is everyone is smoking. There is commentary about everyone lighting up and puffing way, but it is the moment that he captures. One of the best and most enduring icons is Dexter Gordon relaxing after break, with sax in one hand and cigarette in the other. It is the way the smoke is drifting upward that makes the photo. Great look with two arts merging.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. McIntosh on August 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It is VERY important to realize that this book is NOT a text on the history of jazz. It is, instead, a collection of some of the finest black and white photographs ever taken centering on iconic jazz figures from 1948 onward. It should be compared to books containing the photographic works of Ansel Adams or Julius Shulman rather than jazz texts by Giddons, Tanner/Megill, or Gioia. It's an easy mistake to make as the title is simply "Jazz", but the rating on this book should be based on the quality of the photos rather than the lack of a narrative. Based on the photos, this book gets a ten out of five from me. Herman Leonard is a legend, and quite frankly, a freaking genius. If it's true that the whole point of photography AND jazz is for the artist to tell a story, Herman Leonard succeeds on every page. I would recommend this book first to fans of fine photography and then to jazz fans everywhere.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SouthernTransplant on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this book for my musician stepson, and found it hard to wrap it up. It is beautiful, well worth having. In fact I'm going to buy another copy for me.
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By C. McRae on February 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The pictures in black and white tell a story that will sell the music mute to the ears but still resonating through the pages. The words that mirror the images help to encapsulate the tall of the musician for a brief moment. The sheer size and heft of the book to me is equal in measure to the importance Jazz has contributed to world of music...

Must recommend to a true music fan of any genre... must learn the roots in order to respect and decipher the true music of today
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