The Great Jazz Day

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The Great Jazz Day
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, September 04, 2018 9:03 AM

The Great Jazz Day

My copy of this book is a gift from a fellow railfan.  The January 1959 issue of Esquire was devoted to "The Golden Age of Jazz."  On 14 August 1958, Esquire gathered nearly sixty jazz musicians on the stoop, stairs, and sidewalk in front of a West 126th Street Harlem brownstone house for a group photograph published in that issue.  The book comprises the story behind that photograph, related events, biographies of many of the musicians, and related photographs,  All very interesting reading and a great picture of a an era and culture.
 
It is a train story, because Duke Ellington could not make the date at East 126th Street, and instead was photographed by Art Kane at the front of an "A Train" in the 207th Street, Washington Heights, yards.  This photograph would be included here if reproducing a photo from a 1959 magazine and a 2000 book is permissible under TRAINS' policies.  Can someone tell me?  It is also on the wall of my apartment, in tribute to the Duke's music and in nostalgia for the "8th Avenue Subway," that I rode very frequently when growing up in New York.
 
But the most important message of the book might be the demonstration of the real brotherly love across ethnic, racial, and religious boundaries, and even professional rivalry, that Jazz produced.  But only five women are represented, two singers, one the woman responsible for the successful movie about the picture A great Day in Harlem, and two others, wives of included men.
 
The Great Jazz Day, Charles Graham and others, De Capo Press, Woodward Publishing Company, 2000, distributed  by Andrews McMeel Universal, Kansas City, Missouri
 
Comment from a friend:
 
Dave, excerpts from an article about Gerry Mulligan, one of the musicians in the 1958 Harlem photo. Also, if you can get Youtube, is Mulligan's "K-4 Pacific."

http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com/2009/09/gerry-mulligan-part-4.html


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoB-a3U9jxE

"I went to a public school the first year in Kalamazoo. There was a kid who lived across the street who could play trumpet. He could play things like "Carnival of Venice" and "Flight of the Bumble Bee." I was the most envious kid you ever saw. I admired him and we were best friends.
 "The next year they sent me downtown to the Catholic school. The school was right next to the Michigan Central tracks. Every day I'd go out for the recess just as the Wolverine was going by. I used to see the people sitting in the dining car, with the white tablecloths and the silverware. The Wolverine was a very classy train on the New York Central. For a long time the Wolverine had the fastest schedule of any train in the country. Those were the Michigan Central tracks, but the Michigan Central was part of the New York Central.  A great train, going by. And here I am in this filthy play-yard in the freezing cold. I was envious then, too."
 
 Another comment:
 
Thanks.  Lots of interesting points.  Your comments on Edward Kennedy Ellington struck a chord (pun intended) with me, as he was/is one of my favorite composers/artists.  Take the A Train was written by Billy Strayhorn, the Duke's "alter-ego," whose 100th anniversary was celebrated on the Eighth Avenue Subway (where else?).  Luckily I found out about the special train on museum R1-9s that were operated and my wife and I were aboard.  See these links: 
 
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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, September 05, 2018 8:38 AM

   Thanks for posting this, daveklepper; it was most interesting to read the story behind that famous and powerful photograph.  What giants roamed the land in those days!

   I love New York.  When I go, I often stay at the New Yorker Hotel, which sits atop the 8th Avenue subway at 34th Street, almost catty-corner to Penn Station.  Talk about convenient for a railfan!

   Can you recall that well-known nighttime photo of Penn Station taken from above, with every bit of the glass lit up?  By my reckoning, that photo was taken from suite 4005 at the New Yorker...my room, as it were.  Needless to say, the current view of Madison Square Garden isn't nearly as impressive, although they do illuminate it at night with colorful lights, which is a nice touch.

   But I never go to New York without hearing in my mind "Take the A train," and to me it is the quintessential song about that great city.

   Thanks again, and l'shanah tovah!

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 09, 2018 4:58 AM

And more proof of Jazz jumping borders (peerhsaps true of good music in general?)

From Jack May's Southern Europeqn - Vienna, Brtislava - Ukrain trip.   Lviv, the Ukrain:

And the advertizing poster with Uncle Sam is for a real-estate company that is named the American real-estate company, without any known connection to the USA or Canada or other American country.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, September 09, 2018 4:14 PM

I know I've posted this before, but I'm sure there's no harm in posting it again.

Duke Ellington's classic "Take the 'A' Train."  OK, it's not on the subway, but I think we can live with that.

You're right, NKP Guy, there were giants in those days!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb2w2m1JmCY

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 3:26 AM
Corrections:
 
One woman I listed as a singer was a pianists.  Also, in addition to the two other woman, about ten others were mentioned in individual singers’ biographies and in other memories recounted in the book.  Regarding the role of women in Jazz, Jean Bach, responsible for the movie about the picture, A Great Day in Harlem, writes as follows on page 69:
 
“You would have thought that by the time this picture was taken, Summer 1958, there would be more than three women in the group.  But there they are, two pianists and one wonderful singer, Maxine Sullivan, Marian McPartland, and Mary Lou Williams.”
 
Maxine Sullivan was the singer.
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:30 AM

Marian McPartland will be familiar to generations of NPR listeners for the series 'Piano Jazz'.  Here are a couple of interviews:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjyJ6r_5Ltg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkwGcCJou3s

And to get a poignant bit of the flavor:

And a sampling of Mary Lou Williams:

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 3:13 PM
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 13, 2018 3:36 AM

His New York Times obiturary:

https://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/24/obituaries/art-kane-69-photographer-of-jazz-stars.html

Art Kane talks about the photo in documentary film "A Great Day in Harlem."

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 13, 2018 10:08 PM
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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, September 15, 2018 9:30 AM

I just love that piano jazz sound, especially Marian McParlands!

I don't know about you, but it fills my mind with an image of a big-city cocktail lounge, filled with mature sophisticated men and women, highball and martini glassware clinking in the background, and a slight smoky haze just under the ceiling.  "Smoky haze!" you ask.  Well, that was back in the days before everyone knew it was bad for you! 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 16, 2018 11:36 AM

Comment from a friend:

Dave, your thread has everything except Art Kane's iconic photo itself. The Daily News has the best version online, "interactive," identifying who by clicking on any individual in the photo.

http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2016/08/story-behind-great-day-in-harlem-photo/



http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2016/08/story-behind-great-day-in-harlem-photo/


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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, September 16, 2018 3:49 PM

Thanks for that link David, just fascinating!

Good old New York Daily News!

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Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 12:34 PM

That has to be the greatest thing ever put on the interwebs! Thanks so much for posting that! 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:44 PM

The credit belongs to an anonoous friend who sent the URL to me.

One could spend a week with that picture.

With the book, one can corelate biographical comments on musical styles with what one hears.

 

 

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