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Sat Feb 2, 2019, 10:19 AM

Black history Pg 2: Stoop Summit - How a Harlem brownstone was immortalized

Stoop Summit
How a Harlem brownstone was immortalized when the living legends of jazz assembled there for an iconic photograph
BY SARAH GOODYEAR

FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2016

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

A tip of the hat to Malaise and Brother Buzz!!!

&f=1

This photo at the link is interactive and really interesting to use
A recurring series on iconic scenes from the city’s storied culture.

The year was 1999, and Noella Cotto was just looking for a place in Harlem to call her own. When she finally found the perfect place — a brownstone, in decent shape, at 17 E. 126th Street — she had no idea that the building had played a historic supporting role in American pop culture when, in 1958, 57 of the coolest cats in jazz assembled there to have their picture taken for a special issue of Esquire magazine. Cotto, who worked as a postal cop at the time, was unaware that the famous photo, titled “Harlem 1958,” was ubiquitous around the neighborhood, or that a generation of folks who’d grown up in the so-called Cultural Capital of Black America had seen the image so often, hanging in barber shops and bodegas, that they’d long since forgotten about it themselves. Nor did she realize that the photo had gotten another close-up only five years earlier in an Oscar-nominated documentary, “A Great Day in Harlem.”

The whole audacious idea was conceived by a man who none of the musicians knew, 33-year-old Art Kane, who had made a name for himself as a magazine art director but whose passion was photography. This was his first professional shooting assignment and, with it, he ended up making history almost by accident.

“He became aware that Esquire was planning a big issue on jazz,” says Jonathan Kane, Art’s son, a musician and photographer who also manages his late father’s photographic legacy (Art Kane died in 1995). “He cooked up the idea of doing a big portrait (with) all these musicians. Art pitched his crazy idea, and they said, Do it.” There was no question about where he would shoot. “Harlem was where the jazz scene came into being and coalesced,” Kane says. “It had to be in Harlem. And he wanted a place that reflected everyday life rather than a club. This could be a street where anybody could live.”

After scouting for a typical building on a typical block, Kane chose 126th St. between Fifth and Madison Aves. He wanted one that was convenient to the subway and what was then the New York Central Railroad (now Metro North), which had a station at 125th and Park. He put out the call for musicians through agents, record labels, union halls, clubs — pretty much any channel he could think of.

One of the musicians answering the call was Sonny Rollins, the brilliant tenor saxophonist who was 27 years old when the picture was shot and already among the period’s most acclaimed jazz artists. Rollins, who says he started playing music when he was 7 or 8 years old, had grown up in central Harlem, surrounded by the ferment of jazz. “All of the black musicians lived in Harlem, it was the only place you could live,” he says. “Harlem was the place. All my idols, like Fats Waller, all these people performed around where I went to school, at P.S. 89, at 135th Street and Lenox Avenue. So it was quite a community.”
“There were musicians from several eras of jazz. That picture depicted what a robust scene it was for jazz musicians in New York.”
— Sonny Rollins

When he heard about the photo shoot, he knew he had to be there. “I didn’t hesitate,” says Rollins, who is now 85 and, along with Benny Golson, one of only two surviving musicians in the photo. “Something like that had never been done, and the guys were just eager to do it. I certainly was eager to do it. They were all my compadres. It was great fun.”

They had fun even though the start time, in jazz terms, was brutal. Because he wanted to utilize the best light on the north side of the street, avoiding any shadows, Kane asked people to arrive by 10 a.m. — a tall order for artists who typically worked until 4 in the morning. In the 1994 documentary about the photograph, Steve Frankfurt, who was assisting Kane that day, put that early call time in perspective: “Somebody said they didn’t realize there were two 10 o’clocks in the same day.”

The nighthawks showed up anyway, dressed to the nines and ready for action. They came by subway and commuter train. They came by taxi and on foot. Among the greats who made the gig that morning were Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Gene Krupa, Mary Lou Williams, Roy Eldridge, Milt Hinton and Lester Young. It was a crazy scene, made even more beautiful by the row of neighborhood kids who sat in a row along the curb alongside a jovial Count Basie. “There were musicians from several eras of jazz,” Rollins says. “I think that picture depicted what a robust scene it was for jazz musicians in New York.”
history

Jonathan Kane

HISTORY IN THE MAKING The January 1959 issue of Esquire in which Art Kane’s photo originally appeared.

“A Great Day in Harlem” dives into the story behind the picture in detail, incorporating the priceless, joy-infused Super-8 footage that Mona Hinton, Milt’s wife, shot during the session. It shows the musicians milling about, greeting each other, telling stories, laughing — doing just about everything but paying attention to the photographer across the street, who implored them to come into formation through a megaphone improvised from a rolled-up newspaper.

<BIG snip>

Jonathan Kane says. “(The photograph) has become part of our cultural fabric.”



TAKE THE 2/3 TRAIN The brownstone at 17 E. 126th Street today, with the tripod photographer Art Kane used when shooting “Harlem 1958.”

This article is so worth the reading!

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Reply Black history Pg 2: Stoop Summit - How a Harlem brownstone was immortalized (Original post)
marble falls Feb 2 OP
malaise Feb 2 #1
marble falls Feb 2 #2
csziggy Feb 2 #3
marble falls Feb 2 #5
csziggy Feb 2 #7
monmouth4 Feb 2 #4
marble falls Feb 2 #6
monmouth4 Feb 2 #8
marble falls Feb 2 #9
Sparkly Feb 2 #10

Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 10:24 AM

1. Great post

Thanks marble falls

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Response to malaise (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 10:27 AM

2. You are part of the reason I like it here so much.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:09 AM

5. I swear I put that in .....

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Response to marble falls (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:14 AM

7. It's easy to forget - and think you did it.

Thanks for the article - it's great!

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 10:52 AM

4. OMG, such an awesome picture. My favs all together and bless Count Basie who I had the great

pleasure to meet many years ago. He was soooo charming.

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Response to monmouth4 (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:12 AM

6. On the interactive photo you can click each person and get their names and what they did.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:15 AM

8. Thank you so much. Thelonious Monk, OMG!!!! n/t

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Response to monmouth4 (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:18 AM

9. The first time I saw that photo in the sixties, I got shivers. Its obviously an important document.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:54 AM

10. This is fantastic!!

Thanks for posting it!!

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