Charley Gallay/Getty Images
Herman Leonard in 2008. Charley Gallay/Getty Images
Herman Leonard, the photographer who captured archetypal images of jazz musicians, has died, his company announced late Saturday. He was 87.
His shots of artists in clubs, studios and stages helped form the public impressions of what jazz is: Dexter Gordon blowing cigarette smoke skyward, Frank Sinatra in the studio, Dizzy Gillespie at the Royal Roost at the height of his bebop powers. He remained active in photographing and curating projects to the end of his life.
NPR is working on an on-air remembrance of Herman Leonard — this page will be updated with the link when it is live. UPDATE: Felix Contreras' excellent Herman Leonard career profile. In the meanwhile, please see these archived features for more information:
- Last year, NPR's The Picture Show produced an audio slideshow of Leonard's photographs at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival. Also, be sure to check out the attached blog post, where reporter Corey Takahashi spoke with Leonard about digitizing his collection. The blog also has a few words up today.
- After Hurricane Katrina, Leonard lost his New Orleans studio, darkroom and archive of 8,000 prints. Felix Contreras tells that story. In 2007, Leonard spoke with Michele Norris. (He was later awarded a Grammy Foundation Grant to preserve and digitize his nearly 60,000 negatives, which were saved from the flooding.)