Monday, January 26, 2009

a great day in harlem

"a great day in harlem" was Art Kane's first (and most famous) professional photo. Kane was hired by Esquire Magazine to take a photograph for their feature on the late 1950s jazz scene in new york. Kane, an amateur photographer, contacted every prominent jazz musician he'd heard of and asked them to meet on the stairs of a harlem brownstone at 10am. Kane wasn't expecting much of a turnout considering he was asking a group of nightclub musicians wake up early but, to everyone's surprise, 55 cats and 3 ladies showed up at 126th street (between 5th and madison) to have their portrait taken.

the photograph inspired Jean Bach's documentary "a great day in harlem" that was nominated for best documentary at the 1995 academy awards. ten years later, steven spielberg incorporated the photograph into the plot of "the terminal". tom hank's character travels to the usa to track down benny golson to complete his deceased father's autograph collection of every musician featured in this photo.

here is some information on each of the musicians featured in "a great day in harlem", and below you'll find the trailer for jean bach's documentary.

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