About the Contributors #11

October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

Legacy Editions and and legacies in music. Quincy Jones writes about his longtime respect and friendship with Herman Leonard. Legacy Editions title Love, Graham Nash includes not only text by Graham Nash but has an introduction by the iconic Neil Young. Legacy Editions includes other important cultural icons, Al Michaels and President Jimmy Carter in Gold, not to mention text and signatures from the entire team!


Two Jazz Legacies, Quincy Jones and Herman Leonard
Listen: Herman Leonard and His World of Jazz

Today people talk a lot about “reading” a photograph. That means “getting it,” understanding what it’s all about. But, man, when it comes to Herman Leonard, I think a better verb is listen. You need to “listen” to Herman’s pictures. They are full of music and you can hear it. Just look at his great picture of Lady Day {shown below}. If you can’t hear her singing to that little angel over her left shoulder, then you’re just not listening. Herman’s pictures always swing-and always have some special touch, like that angel, that leaves you wondering where it came from. Look at The Duke seated at his piano. It’s Ellington, for sure, but notice how Herman caught him in those modernistic and elegant shafts of black and white light, which echo Ellington’s elegant, always new music.

I’ve often called Herman’s photographs “perfect.” But his perfection was no accident, no piece of good luck. He did have the good luck, or the smarts, to be in a lot of the right places at the right time. But he learned his craft, the notes and scales of his art, just like we musicians did. Before you can go off on a riff, you’ve got to know where the notes are, and Herman learned all his camera’s notes. He realized at a young age the value of studying with a master and apprenticed with Yousuf Karsh, who wrote that Herman had what it took “to be a great photographer.”

Herman and I have known each other since the early Fifties when I was playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. Then in Paris in the late Fifties, and right on till today. And he’s always caught that swing, which is why we musicians always wanted Herman to photograph us. He made us look like our music sounded because he had come to his art the same way we came to ours-by finding our own distinct voices. If there’s ever been a musician’s photographer, it’s been Herman Leonard. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, his photographs are music to my eyes. And most of all, I have been blessed to have him as my brother and friend for so many years.



One of two Legacy Editions titles:
Love, Graham Nash

When it comes to writing songs, most songs seem to be about love, but when love and love of man seem threatened, especially by politics and war, then the subject changes. Sometimes it is easy to write a song about war, if young people are killed on a college campus in the USA because they were protesting a war they did not believe in, and were threatened with the possibility of having to go and fight in, then that is an easy thing to write about. It comes naturally and you just let it go. Then the wars that seem to be so wasteful come along, and you may be a lot older now, like Graham and I are, well then it is different. We are grown men with experience in the world. Our ideals have been battered by life, but we still cling to them, even though we have learned that men fight wars because they breathe. That makes it a lot harder. It makes you a preacher, a politician, all the things you may not want your music to be, and you are caught up in the web. Anger, loss, desperation, they all come to you and make you write songs that seem to separate people, and you don’t know whether you have won or lost.


Without the love and support of my mother and father I wouldn’t be here talking to you. My vision for myself would not have come to pass had it not been for their positive attitude towards my passion for rock and roll.

My father first revealed the magic of photography to me when I was 10 years old and I’ve never been the same since. My mother always encouraged me whatever my pursuit, and it’s from her I really gained the confidence to go out into the world with a strong heart. To them both I dedicate this project and I send my unending love.

For much of my life I’ve tried to share my creations with who ever wanted to take the time to be curious. From the first moment of darkroom magic shown to me by my father so long ago, to this present day, I am driven to express myself mainly through photography and music, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to speak my mind this way. I’m proud to be a part of a society that tolerates my point of view.

The conjunction of two energies, love and pain, is represented here
in these pages. There’s a certain charm about the original scribbling
that seems, in my case, to coalesce into song and image. I certainly hope
you enjoy this journey but please remember that these are my loves . . .
these are my pains. . . .



The other Legacy Editions title:
Gold: A Celebration of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team

It’s been often chronicled that the collective mood of our nation in early 1980 bordered on a combination of gloom and anxiety. The prime rate hovered near 20 percent. Long lines at gas pumps in the 70s portended another future round of shortages. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and, as ironic as it now plays out, the United States threatened a boycott of the Olympic Summer Games in Moscow (which did happen). More than 300 Americans were rounded up in Iran and held as hostages, a nightly embarrassment on Capitol Hill and at the State Department. In sum, the United States had a form of the collective blahs.

Out of that darkening vortex came a group of relatively unknown young men and a coach whose focus was limited to performing at the highest level possible over a February fortnight in Lake Placid, New York. When it was over-and the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team had won the gold medal-it was a sports upset of historic proportions. But as anyone old enough to remember knows, it broke through barriers far apart from the worlds of hockey and athletics. It gave our country a collective emotional lift and it came out of nowhere. Three decades later, people still light up at the memories.

One of the best things about that magical run is that the flashbacks are so disparate. What did it all mean? I think the answer to that is another question-how many ways can you look through a prism? I know a lot of people still view it as a metaphor for “anything is possible.” In an increasingly cynical world, I suppose that’s one legacy. But I prefer to think of it as something somewhat arguable but slightly more tangible-the most joyous sports remembrance of our lifetime.

One of my favorite phrases is “go make a memory.”
Boy, did that group make one!!


Looking back, the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” was much more than an Olympic upset, more than the underdogs defeating the favorite in a hockey game. It was that these unknown, working-class American young men had defeated the all powerful, seasoned Soviet professional team who, months earlier, conquered a team of NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup. The upset came at an auspicious time as the decade that preceded that moment in our nation’s history truly had tested the character of our country. To many Americans, that game was not only a physical victory, but an ideological, even spiritual triumph-perhaps even a success as meaningful in its own nuanced way as the Berlin Airlift or the Apollo moon landing.

America has always embodied an ambitious philosophy of succeeding even under the most daunting odds. When the American team skated onto the ice all those years ago, the result seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Showing the kind of grit and determination that is the very essence of being an “American,” those boys showed us, showed the world the meaning of the word “miracle.” In 1980 we were in dire need of something to celebrate, and those young Americans responded. In doing so they lifted the spirits of an entire nation, and it is a moment that holds a special place in my heart.


#12/16: Listen to the Music

June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Listen: Herman Leonard and His World of Jazz

I’ve told the story many times. It was the 2008 Lucie Awards at Lincoln Center in New York. Herman Leonard was across the aisle from me. Tony Bennett walked out on stage and told his story about a man, a photographer, and a musician’s friend, a fly on the wall in the 1940’s and 1950’s, who photographed for a decade in the jazz clubs of New York and Paris. An artist and friend of the greatest jazz musicians of all time with full access and without a face – unseen in the photographs he took documenting this definitive period in music. Herman comes to the stage and accepts his award, glowing, honored, and humble.

Later on that night, 21st Editions accepts an award for The Everywhere Chronicles from Amy Arbus. After the event, I was outside in front of Lincoln Center with my colleagues and Herman was with his. I walk over admiringly and introduce myself. “Herman, I’m Steven Albahari and I love your work. Do you know 21st Editions?” Herman says, “Sure I do man.” I said, “We should do a project together some day.” He says, “Sure, let’s do it man!” The following fall of 2009, I contacted Herman while I was standing in front of his grand exhibition at Lincoln Center and told him how awe struck I was at his accomplishments and how wonderful his exhibition was. That was the beginning of our project together.


In February of 2010 while we were just getting started, his assistant, Geraldine Baum, called me to let me know Herman had been diagnosed with leukemia and said the doctors were giving him 5 months. I was shocked, then asked if Herman still wanted to do the project and the answer was an unequivocal “yes.” Without thinking that it often takes us at least a year to get to a finished prototype, I said, “Then we will do it, and I will fly out to L.A. to deliver it to him.” After hanging up, I was then faced with a new challenge, indeed. On July 10, I arrived on his doorstep with my good friend and jazz historian and audio-biographer, Jim Luce. We sat with Herman for three hours and went through the book page by page. Herman said, “These are the best platinum prints I have ever seen.” I read Quincy Jones’ introduction and my afterword out loud to Herman while he closed his eyes. We bonded, shared the music, the photographs, the production, the stories, made both a video and audio biography on the spot. He gave us two and a half solid hours of his intense focus. We left and he was drained. Having to rest, I trust he did so with some closure and a smile. Five weeks later on August 14, 2010, Herman passed. Two months later Listen: Herman Leonard and His World of Jazz was nominated for and won a Lucie Award. He was there, all encompassing, as we accepted the award together.


Love, Graham Nash

Graham Nash’s music was pivotal in the adolescence of many of us. I remember being 15 and listening to Nash’s Simple Man album, as well as CSN&Y’s Deja Vu. The music came to represent a page in my life (and surely the lives of many, many others). It exemplified heart and soul and instilled faith and trust in the future. While Nash and his contemporaries were fighting for peace and for an even playing field, the music was laying out the options for us. It was our choice then which road we would take.

When I got word from Pam Clark and Crissy Welzen (in LA at the time) that Mac Holbert, Graham’s partner at Nash Editions, suggested that Graham and I do a book together, I was, of course thrilled at the idea. After meeting with Mac Holbert in New York and about a year after Mac’s initial thought, I called Graham. He was driving up U.S. Highway 1 overlooking the Pacific, while I was sitting in my car overlooking the Atlantic from Cape Cod where I live and work and where the 21st Editions offices are. Between us was 3000 miles and Graham greeted me as if he had known me a lifetime. As I got to know him, I saw that he greets everyone with equal respect and attention, as if you and he were the only ones on the planet. The man gives you his attention. He gives you his all.

And so it began, a four year project that culminated in a one-of-kind testimony to a man, his, music, and just one of many marks he has so far left on this world. Love, Graham Nash got its title from the way Graham often signs his emails with “Love.” It’s a word whose meaning emanates through his music and in the way he seems to move through the world. In walking down a New York City street with Graham you find that if someone recognizes him, he doesn’t hesitate to stop, talk and become interested in who this admirer is. This is a man deeply interested in what’s in front of him.

The task, then, was to produce an equivalent to a man and his music that so many love and are inspired by, cry to, and contemplate. All of the elements of this unprecedented production, then, had to be integral to this task.

1) It started with facsimiles of Graham’s original manuscripts of 17 of his famous songs, written out on scraps of paper, napkins, hotel stationary, and even the back of a Ray Bradbury book, that are works of graphic art themselves.

2) Then, we complimented these with photographs that he took of his family in this same era (Susan, Will, Jackson, and Nile) and of his musical partners, contemporaries, and others who influenced him (David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, Jerry Garcia, Johnny Cash., etc.).

3) Not only are his photographs wonderful in and of themselves, but because Graham and Mac pioneered fine-art digital photographic printing at Nash Editions, it was a gift to the project that he agreed to make the prints there, and yet another whole other layer of history folded into this project. There are 21 bound and 9 loose prints included, each one printed at Nash Editions.

4) What, then, is a manuscript without the final version of what was ultimately performed and still performed to this day? So, we decided we would letterpress the lyrics as they were finalized in an accompanying book. To this we added a portrait of Graham that was, at the time, his wife Susan’s favorite. For us it became a platinum photograph after a daguerreotype taken by the great contemporary artist, Jerry Spagnoli.

5) The introduction was integral to the project because I wanted someone who could address not only the music and the time, but the man himself. Graham emailed Neil Young and in a short time he responded from Zurich, Switzerland, simply with the introduction exactly as we have published it.

6) The final element was a CD of the 17 songs we selected. Before a concert date in Boston, Graham, his wife Susan and I looked at materials for the book and it was Susan’s point of the finger that decided on using Bubinga wood for the box and binding for Love, Graham Nash. It was a true labor of love for me and my team and to this day one of the highlights of my publishing career.

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