If anybody has seen Art Kane‘s “A Great Day in Harlem“, then you know how striking the image is. Seeming like a great coming together of some of the best of the genre, it’s a powerful image. Michael Gonzales recalls the recreation of the same photo in “A Great Day in Hip Hop”. It was 1998 when it was decided that as Art Kane was for jazz, XXL should do for hip-hop. Here’s the article introduction
Back in 1991, when I was in my late 20s, I was good friends with a talented photographer named Alice Arnold. A short white chick from California, she knew more about jazz than most black people our age, including me. Alice schooled me on the design of classic Blue Note album covers, the music of Charles Mingus, and the pictures of various photographers.
One evening, while chilling in her Lower East Side apartment, she asked me if I had ever seen Art Kanes photograph A Great Day in Harlem. Although Id been raised on those uptown streets, I was ashamed to admit that I had no idea what she was talking about. However, when Alice showed me the reproduction of Kanes picture, I realized it was the same image Id seen for years in Harlem barbershops, bookstores, and record shops.
It was originally shot for a jazz issue that Esquire did in the late 50s, Alice explained, passing me the print. Staring closely at the picture, I recognized a few of the legends posed in front of the Harlem brownstone. There was Dizzy Gillespie sticking out his tongue, Count Basie sitting on the curb with a bunch of kids and my favorite wild man pianist Thelonious Monk looking iceberg cool in his white jacket.
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XXL’s A Great Day in Hip Hop : 16 Years Later