Q

A Great Day in Harlem: Sonny Rollins and Robert Benton celebrate 60th anniversary of the iconic jazz photo

Sixty years ago this month, Esquire magazine published its Golden Age of Jazz issue. Inside was a photograph that would go on to become a pop culture artifact.

'It was a great day in Harlem indeed,' says jazz legend Sonny Rollins

A Great Day in Harlem is a 1958 photograph by Art Kane, which shows 57 jazz musicians in Harlem, New York City. (Art Kane)
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Originally published on January 31, 2019

Sixty years ago this month, Esquire magazine published its Golden Age of Jazz issue. Inside, plastered across two pages, was a photograph that would go on to become a pop culture artifact. It was called A Great Day in Harlem, by photographer Art Kane, and it brought together 57 jazz musicians in front of a New York apartment building.

Since that photo was taken, Kane and many of the musicians who appeared in the photo have died. Former Esquire magazine art director Robert Benton and one of the last two surviving subjects of the photo, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, take us back to the day of the shoot and discuss the lasting impact of A Great Day in Harlem.

Produced by Ben Jamieson

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