Fifty Years Ago Today …

MS 2003-36  March on Washington Program - front

THERE IS an incredible document up at the National Archives Tumblr that really hit home. I keep looking at it over and over. It’s a scan of the full program from the March on Washington. Within you’ll find a full listing of speakers, a map of the march and of course “The List of Demands.”

Fifty years gone, literally a “piece” of history, the thing that immediately struck me about the document’s no-frills, simplicity — it’s straight-forwardness — is that it underscores just how starkly different we are today about marking events of this magnitude — often with excessive flourishes.

There is beauty and dignity in the lack of ostentatiousness that cuts through to the heart to the heart of matter. Nothing crowds the list of names and their purpose. Nothing interferes with or eclipses the purpose of the day.

I would love to hold it in my hands.

You can see the rest here.

From the March: Mahalia Jackson


And of course, Dr. King:

“There Will Never Be Another You”


IT’S BEEN a really bad week for jazz.

Two players and a writer who contemplated the form. Just last week, I’d posted the great Art Kane photograph gathering jazz’s bright lights. Just below it I posted the Gordon Parks image, taken in the same spot in 1996. One of the few musicians still standing in the latter photo was pianist Marian McPartland (at left, With Mary Lou Williamson and Thelonious Monk), who died yesterday at 95. This of course after Monday’s news about pianist and composer Cedar Walton (xx) as well as the writer Albert Murray, 97, who was one of the engines behind the founding of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Too many thoughts to try to set in order right now but I didn’t want to let too much more time pass without taking note.

Thank you all for the art.

Stories vs. Content

IT’S BEEN couple of weeks of intense reporting and observation.

Storytelling happens on so many levels and I have had the luck of working with great visual journalists who are wonderful at interpreting nuance/different layers of the story.

I’m off to speak to a photojournalism class about storytelling — the many prongs of it. I’m focusing particularly on that sort of partnered-up-retro-style journalism which is fading. In preparing my little spiel, I’m realizing that while we have all acclimated to referring to what moves through the news-stream as “content”, at base we are still trying to convey stories. It’s a challenge to frequently rethink and re-imaginine the manner in which we work — but that is the nature of news. But I’m very thankful to have good working partners along the way who help me to think about stories in different ways.

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Thank you, Anne, Noe (and un-pictured 🙂 Genaro!)

A Great Day … 55 Years Later

photograph by Art Kane

This morning, I learned that today is the 55th anniversary of this — one of my favorite photographs of all time. I have had it up at pretty much every desk/cubby etc. I’ve worked in.

It’s history.

In many ways, this shot — which came to be known as “A Great Day in Harlem” — is a time-capsule of a shifting moment, something forming/barely stilled  — 57 of the jazz world’s architects and  luminaries — among them: Colemen Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gene Krupa, Pee Wee Russell, Art Blakey Dizzy Gillespie, Marian McPartland and Sonny Rollins (the latter two, still living).

The image, shot by Art Kane —  midmorning , mid-August —  just outside a Harlem brownstone at 17 East 126th Street, would eventually be published  in Esquire magazine’s January 1959 issue.  He would later call the photo: “The greatest picture of that era of musicians ever taken.”

In 1994 radio documentarian Jean Bach’s film documentary, A Great Day in Harlem,  recounted the much-like-herding-cats affair. A document that is great and essential in its own right.

Below is a poignant 1996 re-enactment image of the survivors by Gordon Parks:

photograph by Gordon Parks

photograph by Gordon Parks

and here is Jean Bach’s lovely documentary: