Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Van Der Elksen's Jazz Has Vintage Jazz Performance Photos

I have a penchant for books on music (especially blues and jazz) and photography. Books of photographs of blues and jazz musicians have a specific place in my heart, so when I saw on amazon the description of “Jazz” by Ed Van Der Elsken, I added it to my shopping cart but it wasn’t only until recently that I purchased the book. It is published in Amsterdam and it does include some introductory text which I am unable to understand since I do not read Dutch, but it contains a number of black and white photos from the fifties that look like they were taken during European tours by touring American Jazz Masters.

If the technical information on camera equipment and such matter is provided, it must be in portions of the text that I cannot decipher. In addition to the covers, there are 79 pages of photographs in this 7.2 x 6.8 x 0.6 inches hardback that weighs just under 15 ounces. I give the physical dimensions because most of my recent photo book acquisitions are not easily transportable, and despite being a hard cover, this is readily transportable. Their are audience pictures showing some showing unbridled enthusiasm and others more restrained. Notable groups include the Modern Jazz Quartet, Oscar peterson, Duke Ellington (one picture has him jubilant as he conducts the Orchestra) , Art Blakey with Lee Morgan, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, Miles Davis on stage with Lester Young and with a big smile as Lester plays in one picture and Jimmy Rushing with Benny Goodman. Of course there is more here, but this gives some sense of who is included here. There is a grittiness in part from the grainy reproduction of many of these wonderful shots and there is a nice range of views including some from above like a two-page spread of Armstrong & the All Stars with the concert hall audience clearly visible. Van Der Elsken marvelously captures much of the flavor of the music in his images here. I have no regrets about purchasing this book and suspect lovers of vintage jazz photography will share my enthusiasm for this.

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