Masters of Jazz Photography — Val Wilmer

April 17th, 2015

wilmer-armstrong

Louis Armstrong
London, 1961

Photo by Val Wilmer

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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.

wilmer

This edition: Val Wilmer

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Val Wilmer was born in Yorkshire, England in 1941.  She grew up in the austerity of postwar London, and at age twelve she first heard jazz on the radio.  In 1956 she took her first photographs of a musician — Louis Armstrong — using her mother’s Kodak Brownie box camera.  Wilmer recalled, “He gave me his autograph and that ‘Satchmo smile.’ I ‘clunk-clunked’ a couple of snapshots and launched my career.”  She studied photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London and embarked on the twin careers of jazz photography and writing.  Over the years she has illustrated countless book and magazines and has written extensively on music and other topics; her books include The Face of Black Music and Jazz People.  Her prints have been exhibited in many galleries and museums throughout Europe and the United States.  In 1983 she co-founded Format, Britain’s first all-women photographic agency.

– text from The Jazz Image




wilmer-morgan
Lee Morgan
New York, 1971

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wilmer-sunra
Sun Ra

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wilmer-basie
Count Basie
Holland, 1977

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wilmer-vinson
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson
Berlin, 1974

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wilmer-cobb

Arnett Cobb
London, 1979

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wilmer-lateef
Yusef Lateef




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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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2 comments on “Masters of Jazz Photography — Val Wilmer”

  1. such natural pictures. I can’t believe that Count Basie let the photographer post this picture of him. Count is a man comfortable in his skin

  2. such natural pictures. I can’t believe that Count Basie let the photographer post this picture of him. Count is a man comfortable in his skin

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In This Issue

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"The Wailing Wall" -- a short story by Justin Short

Interviews

Three prominent religious scholars -- Wallace Best, Tracy Fessenden and M. Cooper Harriss -- join us in a conversation about how the world of religion during the life and times of Langston Hughes (pictured), Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison helps us better comprehend the meaning of their work.

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Nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

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In celebration of our upcoming 50th Short Fiction Contest, previous contest winners (dating to 2002) reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

The Joys of Jazz

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On the Turntable

25 recently released jazz tunes that are worth listening to…including Bobo Stenson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Muriel Grossman and Rudy Royston

Features

Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Randy Brecker and Tom Piazza are among those responding to our question, "What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940's?"

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This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

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