Masters of Jazz Photography — Esmond Edwards

February 19th, 2015


edwards-coltrane

John Coltrane
Hackensack, NJ, 1957

Photo by Esmond Edwards

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      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.

      Lee Tanner was a leading authority on jazz photography. He 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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In honor of the late Mr. Tanner, 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: Esmond Edwards

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      Esmond Edwards, a native of Nassau, the Bahamas, moved to New York City’s Harlem in 1932 at age five. As a teenager, he developed avid interests in jazz and photography. He pursued a career as an X-ray technician until 1957, when he quit to be a freelance photographer. About that time he went to a Prestige recording session with a friend, drummer Arthur Taylor, where he took some photographs; the producer later bought a print for the album cover. Edwards took an office job at Prestige and attended recording sessions, learning music-production techniques, and he rose to become A & R director. Edwards recalled, “I got to sign and work with exciting new artists like Eric Dolphy and Oliver Nelson, as well as old favorites like Buck Clayton and Coleman Hawkins. I was supervising the recordings, shooting pictures during the rundowns and playbacks, and then I would hurry home to process the film and print and design the LP cover.” Edwards left in 1962 and went on to A & R positions at several other labels, including Cadet, Verve, and Impulse, where he recorded Ramsey Lewis, John Handy, and rock-and-roll legend Chuck Berry. [Edwards died in 2007].

– text from The Jazz Image




edwards-coltrane1
John Coltrane and Jackie McLean; Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, 1957

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edwards-monk
Thelonious Monk

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edwards-miles
Miles Davis outside the Prestige Records offices

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edwards-hawkins
Coleman Hawkins’ 1959 album, Hawk Eyes

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edwards-fuller

Curtis Fuller’s 1957 album, New Trombone

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edwards-red
Red Garland’s 1959 album, Red in Bluesville




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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.


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# Text from the publisher

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Read our interview with Lee Tanner

Remembering Lee Tanner

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