Photographer Art Kane took the most wonderful photograph in jazz history – remarkable for many reasons. In features 57 of the best jazz musicians and the image has come to be called, ‘A Great Day In Harlem’.
Kane, a freelance photographer was on assignment for Esquire magazine, and he took the picture at around 10 a.m. on 12 August 1958 at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue in Harlem. Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. In 1994 a TV documentary was made as to how this incredible photo came to be taken, one that Quincy Jones calls, “An astonishing photograph.”
What makes this photo so extraordinary is that it was Art Kane’s first photo shoot; he was an art director for various New York magazines. He was given the chance and it was Kane’s idea to take the photo in Harlem, a risk on many levels, not least trying to get everyone together in one place at 10 a.m. in the morning. As Kane said, he had no studio, so he had no choice. Gerry Mulligan didn’t believe anyone would show up…it was way too early.
Of the 57 musicians featured only two remain alive – Sonny Rollins and Benny Golson.
Full list of musicians in the photo
Full List of Musicians: Hilton Jefferson, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Wilbur Ware, Art Blakey, Chubby Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Dickie Wells, Buck Clayton, Taft Jordan, Zutty Singleton, Red Allen, Tyree Glenn, Miff Molo, Sonny Greer, Jay C. Higginbotham, Jimmy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, Max Kaminsky, George Wettling, Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Russell, Ernie Wilkins, Buster Bailey, Osie Johnson, Gigi Gryce, Hank Jones, Eddie Locke, Horace Silver, Luckey Roberts, Maxine Sullivan, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Thomas, Scoville Browne, Stuff Smith, Bill Crump, Coleman Hawkins, Rudy Powell, Oscar Pettiford, Sahib Shihab , Marian McPartland, Sonny Rollins, Lawrence Brown, Mary Lou Williams, Emmett Berry, Thelonious Monk, Vic Dickenson, Milt Hinton, Lester Young, Rex Stewart, J.C. Heard, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie