When you’re up in Harlem, passing time, absorbing the vibe, slow moving, you ought to amble over to the block of 126th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenue, number 17, the address where Art Kane, then not yet a professional photographer, took the historic, important photo of 58 jazz greats on its stoop. There is a film of the event, an Oscar nominated 1994 documentary, A Great Day in Harlem that will open your eyes to the importance of that day. One of its notable comments is by Art Farmer who said he’s amazed to realize who is no longer physically here, but is considered to be very much here: “they are in us and they will always be alive” due to their musical contributions to the genre.
It features 58 of New York’s hottest jazz musicians — and there were quite a few more who didn’t make it up there that day.
This terrific site shows the famous photograph annotated: if you place your cursor on any face, and click, you are led to that musician’s name and a clip of them playing — all 58.
The photo was taken August 12, 1958, and published in Esquire magazine January 1959.
Nearby, within a few blocks are: Sisters restaurant, American Legion Post 398, Shrine, the National Black Theater, Ginny’s Super Club, Paris Blues, the National Jazz Museum and the Studio Museum of Harlem.