What you see above may be the most famous photograph in all of jazz lore. “A Great Day in Harlem,” taken in 1958 by freelance photographer Art Kane, features no fewer than 57 jazz greats posed in front of a brownstone on E. 126th Street in Harlem. It’s been parodied, updated, used as a plot point in movies. And this Friday, it gets re-created in D.C.
Carlyle Smith, a local jazz photographer probably best known for his contributions to CapitalBop, is participating in a nationwide project called Jazz in Sync, whose mission is to visually document America’s many local jazz scenes. To that end, Smith is setting up a photo shoot to emulate “Great Day in Harlem” on Washington terms, and he’s doing it at—-where else?—-the Howard Theatre.
So, Smith is asking that any “active local players and legends still residing in D.C. area….any on-air jazz personalities, club owners, etc.” come to the Howard (620 T S. NW, near the intersection with Florida Avenue) no later than 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon for a photograph at 2 p.m. Musicians are welcome to bring instruments, or any CD release they want to promote. And you, the mere jazz fan? If you are able to get there at 2 on a weekday afternoon, you really have a chance to witness a tidbit of D.C. jazz history, and probably a good chance to say hi to some of the formidable local talent we have ’round these parts. Just stay out of Smith’s shot, OK?