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A Great Day in Harlem

Classical Academy | Jazz & Blues | On This Day...

A Great Day in Harlem is one of the most famous photographs of all time and a snapshot of a key moment in musical history. On January 1, 1959, photographer Art Kane shot this black-and-white picture commissioned by Esquire magazine. The concept was simple: to take a portrait of living legendary jazz musicians on a Harlem street. The photograph's compositional brilliance, its historic importance, no less the complex logistics required to organize the shoot are all astonishing and the result is a true tour de force.


Amongst those featured, we have Buster Bailey and Count Basie, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, Gigi Gryce and Jimmy Jones, Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan, Pee Wee Russell and Lester Young.


Harlem was home to some of the best and most experimental jazz music that has left a great legacy. Find out why with our special playlist of the sounds of Harlem. If you want to know more, why not start out by reading all about the idiosyncratic Thelonious Monk.