Herman Leonard

In the late 1940’s, Herman Leonard’s passion for jazz brought him to the swinging clubs of Broadway, 52nd Street and Harlem. With the camera as his free ticket, he photographed and developed friendships with some of the greats of jazz history including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and many more.

A year’s apprenticeship with Yousuf Karsh provided invaluable experience photographing the likes of Albert Einstein, Harry S. Truman and Clark Gable. In 1956 Leonard was chosen to be Marlon Brando’s personal photographer for an extensive research trip to the Far East. In the late 1950’s Leonard headed for Paris where he worked in fashion and advertising and served as the European photographer for Playboy Magazine.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has honored him by housing an entire collection of his personal archives of musical history. President Clinton presented a portfolio of Leonard’s prints as an official gift from the United States government to a fellow musician, The King of Thailand. The jazz photographs of Herman Leonard appear as a companion to the great musicians who created the unique sounds of America’s original art form.
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Main Photograph
Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, NYC, 1948
© Herman Leonard, 1948
Ella Fitzgerald at the Downbeat Club in NYC, 1948. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to work for photographer Herman Leonard in Los Angeles in the last years of his life. He was a spectacular person and I got to know him and his work very well. It’s extremely difficult to choose my favorite photo of his - but I decided to go with this one as it always felt so joyful and as if I could step into that dark, smokey club in New York in 1948. These greats of jazz in one image, you can almost hear Ella, and the look of joy on Duke Ellington’s face as he sits next to Benny Goodman…there is absolute admiration on all their faces. This is truly an iconic moment in the history of jazz. We have one of the last remaining signed 20x24 Limited Edition prints of this photograph.

"The expressions on the faces of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman as they watch Ella sing are captured perfectly. The painting in the background, along with the lighting and the smoky air, sets the perfect scene."
Sizes:   Color: Black and White   Type: Silver Gelatin   Edition of: 20x24 Limited Edition of 50 , Signed (11x14 Open Edition, Estate Stamped)   Signed
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL OUR GALLERIES: SoHo, NYC: 212 941-8770 Sunset Marquis: 310-881-6025    

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