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Jazz Greats

Vintage Photograph from the Jazz Great's Exhibition

Jazz Greats

Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection

California Museum of Photography

January 29, 2022 to April 3, 2022

The magic that happens when a photographer captures a precise moment in a performing artist’s life – on or off stage – or reflects the joy the audience experiences – is on view in Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection. The exhibition comprises 33 photographs by 15 photographers that date from the 1920s to the 1980s and portrays artists from varied genres in music and dance. Many are legends from the uniquely American art forms of jazz and modern dance; some are simply members of local communities entertaining their neighbors.

Antony Armstrong Jones (Lord Snowdon) is one of Great Britain’s most celebrated photographers, and best known for his elegant magazine portraits of notable personalities. A self-proclaimed “amateur photographer,” jazz bassist Milt Hinton captured intimate portraits of his mentors, colleagues and friends—photos of jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Gjon Mili documented jam sessions he hosted in his New York studio in the 1940s, and created some of the most memorable jazz images of the era. Chuck Stewart is known as one of the most prolific jazz photographers, and has photographed hundreds of musicians for album covers, in clubs, concerts and recording studios, in formal portraits and in live performance. Barbara Morgan is known for her iconic images of modern dance pioneers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. William Gottlieb, a photographer and newspaper columnist, created some of the most-recognized images of the golden age of jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. Michael Abramson established his reputation during the mid-seventies with intimate portraits of nightlife on Chicago’s south side. Jonas Dovydenas, Arthur Felig (Weegee), and Marc Pokempner captured images of amateur musicians in local communities and the reactions of audience members enjoying a night out.

This exhibition has been loaned through the Bank of America Art in our Communities® program

The Bank of America Art in our Communities Program was established in 2009 in order to share the company’s art collection with the widest possible audience.  Comprising the art collections of the predecessor banks that are now part of Bank of America, the program offers museums and nonprofit galleries the opportunity to borrow complete or customized exhibitions at no cost.  The public is able to enjoy new art installations at its local museums, while the museums themselves are able to generate vital revenue.  Since 2009, more than 140 exhibitions have been loaned through this one-of-a-kind program.

Image: William Gottlieb, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, c. 1950. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.