Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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Book: Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz

If you’re into the Jazz scene, then this is something you’re going to want to own. If you’re into photography, then this is a book you’re going to want to own. Nothing says inspiration like looking at other peoples work. Mood, lighting, relationships, passion.

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“Benjamin Cawthra insightfully narrates the vast history of jazz–and its turbulent love-hate relationship with American culture. . . To Cawthra, jazz photography genuinely captures a moment in time–these images are ‘benchmarks’ in the metamorphosis of music. . .”–Down Beat

“A brilliant study of the complex relationships among jazz, photography, racial identity, racial politics, and definitions of black masculinity. . . A must-have for anyone seriously interested in the politics and sociology of jazz and how it was perceived from the 1930s through the 1960s.”–Library Journal

“You sense an author consumed and excited by his subject . . . Dr. Cawthra analyzes pictures of individual musicians and elucidates their context, searching for messages and narratives about jazz as a whole.”–New York Times

“It’s striking how one photographer’s style differs from every other, as though each had been compelled to devise an approach that none of his compatriots could have imagined. Ideal reading while spinning Monk or Kind of Blue.”  — MOJO

“Benjamin Cawthra, writing with grace and a formidable command of jazz history and American culture, makes us see the sounds, the social relations, and the myths of jazz as he ably uncovers the personal and institutional networks of musicians, writers, magazines, and record companies in which jazz photography developed. Even as Blue Notes in Black and White casts a sharp eye on photographic aesthetics—its pages brim with bracing insights into Gjon Mili’s informal but magisterial style, Francis Wolff’s use of chiaroscuro, and Herman Leonard’s concept of the sculpted face—it also works as a groundbreaking history of jazz criticism. At its best, this excellent book serves as a model for a multisensory music criticism: while reading it, I often felt I was hearing the music more deeply.”—John Gennari, author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics
(John Gennari )


“This is a highly engaging and deeply engaged meditation on the development of the modern jazz photography tradition. Cawthra’s probing analysis of how ‘the photographic culture of jazz’ helped make jazz visible perceptively illuminates and contributes significantly to the fascinating, revealing, and ongoing debate surrounding not just the jazz image, notably the African American jazz image, but also jazz history, the meanings of jazz, and indeed the role of jazz in the making of modern American culture.”—Waldo E. Martin, Jr., author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America
(Waldo E. Martin, Jr. )


“This first in-depth history of jazz photography provides the reader with a three-dimensional view of its fascinating subject, illuminating the music, the media, and the makers—the foreground and the background.”—Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz
(Dan Morgenstern )

Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz

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