From Saturday January 5th to Saturday March 30th 2019 The Jazz Centre UK will host a unique exhibition of four original prints (one of them signed) by the legendary jazz photographer Herman Leonard.

Leonard opened his first studio in New York’s Greenwich Village at 200 Sullivan St in 1948. Working free-lance for various magazines, he spent his evenings at legendary New York venues including the Royal Roost and Birdland, where he photographed jazz musicians including Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis and many others.

After working for jazz record producer Norman Granz, who used his work on album jackets, Leonard was employed in 1956 by Marlon Brando as his personal photographer. Later he moved to Paris, photographing both US jazz émigrés as well as celebrated French recording artists including Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Johnny Hallyday for Barclay Records. His first book of photography ‘L’oeil du Jazz’ was designed by Francis Paudras (the jazz patron of pianist Bud Powell) who was later immortalised as ‘Francis’ in Bertrand Tavernier’s classic film ‘Round Midnight’.

In 1988, with his family, Leonard relocated from Ibiza to London where he hosted the first ever exhibition of his work at the Special Photographers Company in Notting Hill. The exhibition was visited by over ten thousand people, including singers Sade and Bono of U2. The show toured the United States a year later.

Leonard’s original photographs, now valuable collector’s items and a unique record of the jazz scene of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s have not been seen in Britain since 1994, so this will be a major event in the UK jazz calendar for 2019.

US President Bill Clinton called Leonard: “The greatest jazz photographer in the history of the genre.”

Between 1995 and 2008 his work received five major awards including 1995, Honorary Master of Science in Photography, (Brooks Institute of Photography/1995) and ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ (Downbeat Magazine/2004).

CEO of The Jazz Centre UK, Digby Fairweather adds: ‘we are enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to display four unique examples of Leonard’s original portraits – one of them signed in person –  at The Centre; the first exhibition of truly international status in our Art Gallery opened in October 2018.

Press release ends

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TJCUK Trustees and Volunteers are available for interviews running up to, during and after the event. Please email Digby to organise email, phone or 1:1 interviews.


Opened in February 2016 and registered as a Charity (CEO:1167421) ‘The Jazz Centre (UK)’ celebrates the music’s heritage, art and memorabilia and actively supports and promotes contemporary performance and education.

Our heritage acquisitions already include the instruments of jazz legends (Louis Armstrong’s ‘Special’ trumpet and Sir John Dankworth’s first piano) and the complete Archives of British jazz’s most eloquent and well-remembered spokesman Humphrey Lyttelton – his desk, his instruments and eight decades of his scrapbooks and private correspondence (donated by son Stephen Lyttelton) and his lifetime of achievements and music awards (donated by Eton College).

Our Patrons include:  Dame Cleo Laine, Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Van Morrison, Dan Morgenstern, Paul Jones, Jools Holland, Simon Spillett, Alan Barnes and Susan Da Costa.

What our patrons say:

Sir Michael Parkinson
“It’s been a long time coming, but such good news – and well deserved”

Sir Van Morrison 
“I fully support the idea of a national jazz centre and wish you every success with the project”

Jools Holland 
“If we can make it work it will be a great thing for jazz – not only for Britain but all over the world”

Our CEO is Digby Fairweather.

Digby Fairweather has been a professional jazz musician since l977 and recorded over seventy albums as leader and sideman. After work with many celebrated bands (including ‘The Best of British Jazz’ (l999-2006)  and ‘The Great British Jazz Band’ (l994-2005) he has led his ‘Half-Dozen’ since l995 touring and recording with blues-legend George Melly (2003-7) Paul Jones (Manfreds/Blues Band)(2007-present) and as a solo act. Digby was Founder of the National Jazz Archive UK which opened in l988 and also broadcast widely on jazz for the BBC and Jazz FM (l986-1998) before returning to fulltime playing in l998. His awards have included: British Jazz Awards (for trumpet l992/Services to Jazz,l993);  Benno Haussmann Award (Services to Jazz, l993) and the Freedoms of London (l992) and his home town Southend-on-Sea(2000). Digby has been called ‘just about the best Ambassador British jazz could have’ (Michael Dynan,’The Stage’) and has authored (or co-authored) several books of his own. In 2013 he received the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and his group ‘Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen’ has won the British Jazz Award – the ‘Jazz Oscar’ for ‘top small group’ for the last eleven years;2005/6/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16.In 2016 Digby founded the new Charity ‘The Jazz Centre (UK)’ in Southend and combines playing (and leading his band) with his duties as Director/TJC(UK)


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