Max Roach -- NYC [black-and-white photoprint,] 1950
Leonard, Herman 1923-2010
Roach, Max 1924-2007
Silver gelatin on paper
Roach is shown playing the drums in a recording studio. Title, signature, date in lower margin.
Used April 27, 2010, on the Smithsonian Photographic Initiative web site, "click! photography changes everything" (http://click.si.edu) to accompany contributor Jeremy Wolfe's (a professor at Harvard School of Medicine who investigates visual attention) story, which reflects on how photography changes what and how much we remember
Herman Leonard Photographs, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of the artist
Duke Ellington called Billie Holiday "the essence of cool," a reference to her equipoise in performance. The most influential jazz vocalist of all time, Holiday had a controlled emotional power that transformed even trite ballads into romantic short stories. Born Eleonora Harris and partially raised in a New York City brothel, she crafted a cool vocal style by tempering Bessie Smith’s shouting power with Louis Armstrong’s rhythmic nuance, then honed her craft on the road with the Count Basie Orchestra. Lester Young named her "Lady Day," and in their chamber jazz classics, such as "All of Me," voice and saxophone curl around each other into smoky swirls of late-night yearning. Late in life Holiday, a drug addict and survivor of abusive relationships, sang in a cracked, broken voice that remained true to the jazz practice of self-expression.
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: American\African American
c. 1945 (printed 1979)
Composer/pianist Billy Strayhorn never achieved the celebrity that some other jazz musicians enjoyed in their lifetimes. Nevertheless, his composing and arranging collaboration with Duke Ellington over three decades yielded many of the most memorable compositions in the history of jazz. In fact, Ellington and Strayhorn worked so closely that it was often difficult to determine where one began and the other left off. As Ellington once put it, "Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head."
Among Strayhorn's greatest assets was a solid musical education that included thorough grounding in classical music. Doubtless that training contributed to the remarkably sophisticated character of many of his compositions and the echoes of such composers as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel that can be found in them.
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: Male
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Arranger
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Lionel Hampton began his musical career as a drummer in Les Hite's band, but that changed in the early 1930s, when he tried playing a vibraphone in an idle moment at a recording session. The vibraphone was soon his instrument of choice, and over the next several years, his skill on it earned it a significant place in the jazz idiom. In 1940, after playing for four years with the Benny Goodman Quartet, Hampton formed his own band. Claiming a roster of musicians that included such jazz notables as Quincy Jones and Charlie Mingus, the group became one of America's most highly regarded big bands. Hampton's most endearing trait was his high-energy spontaneity that sometimes raised audience enthusiasm to a fever pitch. "We got no routine," he once said, "We just act the way the spirit moves us."