La Vida Leica!

Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival
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Author:  James Lehrer [ Mon May 14, 2018 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival

I kept looking through Jazz Festival, a compilation of photographs taken by the late Jim Marshall at the Monterey and Newport Jazz Festivals in the years 1960-66, every time I dropped by the Leica Store & Gallery LA. I finally sprang for a copy when I noticed that it was on sale at Amazon for about half-price. After taking it home and studying it more closely, I wonder why I waited so long to buy a copy. In the interest of full disclosure, I must acknowledge an affection for jazz of that period (and especially "west coast cool" jazz). While I'm not as fond of be-bop, I love listening to Gerry Mulligan, "Cannonball" Adderley, Duke Ellington, J. J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Stan Kenton, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dave Brubeck and Gil Evans. I also must confess an abiding love for the 1960's "Ivy League" fashions of the time. Give me a button-down shirt, khaki chinos and suede chukka boots any old day.
The book's publisher, RAP/Reel Art Press, seems to revel in the coolness of that period. Among their other titles are books on Dennis Stock, Steve McQueen, and the beat scene (photographs by Burt Glinn). Undoubtedly the Leica Store LA stocks Jazz Festival in part because they hosted an exhibition of Jim Marshall's work in their Gallery in 2014.
There is a photograph of Marshall in the book, showing him festooned with Leicas.
Jazz Festival features introductions by President Bill Clinton, Nat Hentoff and Dave Brolin, hundreds of beautifully printed and reproduced black and white photographs (Marshall was said to be a stickler for print quality, insisting on printing from his negatives rather than from scans. The images are generally very sharp and have wide dynamic range. Most impressive are the compositions and expressions. Marshall had unprecedented access to the performers, and knew most of them personally. His approach was completely candid, never staging his subjects. His love for the music and the performers shines through, and the book is a model of music photojournalism.
Interestingly (and, unexpectedly) there is a page towards the end of the book that lists current makers and retailers of Ivy League clothes, shoes and accessories in the US and the UK.
Jim Marshall, Jazz Festival (2016), RAP/Reel Art Press, London, 336 pages, hardcover.

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