Jean Bach, Jazz Documentarian, Filmmaker and Fan, Dies at 94

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“The greatest picture of that era of musicians ever taken.” – Art Kane

On August 12, 1958 at about 10 a.m., 57 notable jazz musicians came together to take a group photo that would become one of the most famous and important objects in the study of the history of jazz.  The photographer was Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire Magazine and the location was in front of a Brownstone at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem, New York City.

For years a print of the famous black and white photograph hung in the office of Jean Bach’s husband, Bob, a television executive. After his passing in 1985, Ms. Bach learned  that Milt Hinton, the bassist and jazz photographer, had a home movie of the original 1958 shoot, in which Ms. Bach used the footage as a basis for her documentary. Her fascination with the photograph and her love for jazz music fueled her desire to document that famous day by creating an hour long film, A Great Day In Harlem, about how the shoot came together, what was taking place during the shoot and how the musicians interacted with one another. Complementing the raw footage are interviews with surviving musicians who were in the photo, performance footage and narration by Quincy Jones.

The documentary film A Great Day In Harlem was released in 1994 and is, to this day, a treasured piece of jazz music history for historians, musicians and collector alike. Below is the full stream of the 1994 Academy Award Nominated Documentary A Great Day In Harlem.

R.I.P. Jean Bach

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