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Jazz Giants at Tall Boys

8 June 2015
Jazz Giants at Tall Boys
Straying from their usually local focus, Tall Boys are currently hosting an exhibition that serves as an unusual relic of heyday jazz culture. Featuring photography from R. H. Harvey, the series documents high-octane moments surrounding who we now know as the ‘Jazz Giants’ at their various performances around Germany in the fifties.

Jazz Giants Article in text

The shots are a collection of those previously unseen; presumably disregarded in the original curation progress where cleaner, more obvious compositions were chosen. The result feels more personal. The photographs having been shielded from public view since the fifties are thus re-revealed in Tall Boys’ intimate venue. Equally at the time of their composition the images may well have been discarded because they were so commonplace; Jazz was rife in the fifties with plentiful photographic evidence. And yet to those of us who missed out on this era, the energy and prevalence of the artists of this genre are hard to reproduce; images that are unseen somehow bypass the sense that we have ‘seen it all before’ and present the past as something completely new.

Jazz Giants Article in text 2

From Miles Davies to Louis Armstrong, the photographs capture the energy and intimacy of Jazz performances in clubs around Germany. Many of the shots are taken from a perspective below the stage, the view from the crowd looking up to the performers with a sense of wonderment, inflating their stature to ‘Giant’ status. Other shots include portraiture; one shot captures Miles Davis reclining in a chair post-show; Harvey examining the personality that existed behind the brass and the celebrity.

If you choose to visit the series, the soundtrack (usually a cool, eclectic playlist) is an upbeat yet relaxing mix of the various artists featured, adding an extra dimension to the photography. The music compliments the quiet little nook, making beer drinking even more pleasant at Tall Boys. ‘Jazz Giants’ will be up until the 30th of June.

Emma is a Freelance Writer for Leeds Living. She has a degree in English literature from the University of Leeds and specialises in writing cultural editorials.