Masters of Jazz Photography — Gjon Mili

January 29th, 2014

Masters of Jazz Photography

The great improvisational American jazz musicians of the mid-20th century inspired a generation of photographers to develop a looser, moodier style of visual expression. That evocative approach is on striking display in The Jazz Image: Masters of Jazz Photography. Covering six decades of performers — from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to John Coltrane and Miles Davis — this unique collection is as much a comprehensive catalogue of jazz greats as it is a salute to the photographers who captured them.

The late Lee Tanner was a leading authority on jazz photography. For this book, Tanner selected works — by such noted jazz photographers as Herman Leonard, Bob Willoughby, Milt Hinton, and Bill Claxton — that are iconic, candid, explosive, and intimate. They provide a simultaneous look at jazz, photography, and America from 1935 into the 1990s.#

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Jerry Jazz Musician presents a number of editions of “Master of Jazz Photography,” featuring a work by one of the photographers featured in The Jazz Image.

 

This edition: Gjon Mili

 


 


 mili-basie

 Lester Young (saxophone) and Count Basie (right), 1943

 

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mili-holiday
A 1943 jam session in Mili’s New York studio, with Billie Holiday

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mili-johnson
James P. Johnson in Mili’s studio
New York, 1943

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mili-williams
Mary Lou Williams and bassist John Simmons
In Mili’s New York studio, 1943

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mili-white1
Josh White
New York, 1943

 

 

 

 


 

mili

 

      Gjon Mili came to the United States from Romania in 1923 to study electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  After graduation he joined the Westinghouse Company to conduct lighting research.  Photoflash lamps, invented in 1931, had just arrived in the US, and he began experimenting with lighting and shutter synchronization.  He later opened his own studio in New York City and started photographing for Life magazine.  Mili’s work over the next decades featured great personalities in the worlds of sports, theater, dance, and music.  Mili became friends with many of his subjects, who would return to his studio after hours for parties, poker games, and jam sessions.  In 1944 Life produced a photo-essay on one such session, titled “Life Goes to a Party.”  That year Mili made his first short film, Jammin’ the Blues, in collaboration with Norman Granz, a film editor who was just starting to produce the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series.  This short of  a jam session is one of the finest presentations of jazz in film.  In 1966 a fire destroyed Mili’s studio, wiping out most of his prints and negatives.  Fortunately, his work for Life was safe in the magazine’s archives.  Mili’s vintage prints are available at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, and new prints can be obtained from Getty Images.

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Jammin’ the Blues  

Read Mr.Mili’s February 16, 1984 obituary

 


 

 

About the Author

 

Lee Tanner photographed jazz musicians for nearly half a century. His photographs have appeared in Down Beat, Jazz Times, American Photo, and Popular Photography, on the covers of many record albums, and in several books.

 

 

Jerry Jazz Musician remembers Lee Tanner

 

# Text from the publisher

 

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In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 22 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Stephan Crump, Brittany Anjou, Julian Lage, Joey DeFrancesco and Antonio Sanchez

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.

Art

In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

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