A Great Day In Harlem immortalised in street renaming

    Sixty-three years after Art Kane photographed 57 jazz musicians on East 126th Street, the location gets recognised on the Harlem street map

    Art Kane's photo Harlem 58

    On 12 August, East 126th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues in East Harlem, New York will be co-named “Art Kane Harlem 1958 Place” in honour of photographer Art Kane and his renowned photograph “Harlem 1958” (also known as a “A Great Day In Harlem”).

    Jonathan Kane, son of Art and author of the book Art Kane: Harlem 1958 (published by Wall Of Sound, 2018), will speak, and prepared remarks from Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins, the last remaining living subjects of the photograph, will be delivered.

    The renaming occurs 63 years to the day after Arthur Kanofsky (Art Kane) got together 57 jazz musicians, including Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, at 10 a.m. at 7 East 126th Street to take what he called “a sort of a graduation photo or class picture” of the jazz players of New York.

    [Update, 12 August 2021: in the event the renaming ceremony was cancelled because of a forecast temperature of 107°F, but the new street sign is in place.]

    Kane’s photograph was published in Esquire magazine in the January 1959 issue. John White thoroughly reviewed Jonathan Kane’s book in Jazz Journal in 2019, finding it good if flawed.

    A similar photographic affair, titled “A Swinging Day In Soho” was organised in London in 1996 when Kane’s photo came into the public eye again. A number of the attendees are pictured below.

    Pictured by Peter Symes at A Swinging Day In Soho, 24 June 1996: L-R, Owen Bryce, Wally Fawkes, Max Collie and then JJ editor Eddie Cook