Blue Notes in Black and White

Photo by William Gottlieb

Photo by William Gottlieb

In yesterday’s Times Ben Ratliff had an interesting review of a new jazz photo book by Benjamin Cawthra, and he throws in a Smith/JLP mention.  In the recent past, a couple of editors have encouraged me to author a book on “the history of jazz photography.”  One day it might make sense.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I don’t think jazz music has been served well by jazz photography and, hence, jazz marketing.  So much emphasis on the individual doesn’t jibe with what the music is about, doesn’t jibe with what I think I learned in 12 years of the JLP nor what I learned from the work of Whitney Balliett, AB Spellman, Nat Hentoff, or Paul Berliner’s great book, “Thinking in Jazz.”  The losers in our urgent need for heros are the bass players and drummers, who are like catchers in baseball; essential to success but not recognized enough.  It’s not that Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax don’t deserve to be honored, it’s just that what really happens on a baseball diamond needs to be represented in full.  That’s what makes Whitney Balliett’s chronicle of jazz history essential.

-S.S.

1 Comment

  1. Debbie Burke Said,

    December 19, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful idea for a book! Hope you consider it. There is some awesome photography out there and to have it in one place would be fantastic. By the way, my book on jazz in the Poconos just came out and I am thrilled, hope to get word out there. Nice meeting you at ZootFest 2011!

    Debbie Burke
    Author of “The Poconos in B Flat”