Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Jim Marshall Jazz Festival exhibition at Leica in London

Jim Marshall Jazz Festival exhibition at Leica in London

 ©  Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press)
© Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press)


Leica UK to host ‘Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival’ at Mayfair

Leica Mayfair, 27 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NQ – 17 – 28 March 2017

Leica UK has announced Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival: a new exhibition at its Mayfair studio, which will be open to the public from 17-28 March.  Featuring images from one of the most celebrated music photographers of the twentieth century, this unique collection is taken from a new book of the same name from publisher Reel Art Press, and has remained almost completely unseen until now.

Shot on his beloved Leica M cameras, ‘Jazz Festival’ captures both the thrill of the performers and the atmosphere of the crowds, immortalising iconic behind-the-scenes moments at the Newport and Monterey jazz festivals throughout the 1960s, and represents some of Marshall’s earliest photographic work.

Jim Marshall and Leica Camera are synonymous. Jim bought his first Leica in 1959 for $50 down and twelve $24 monthly payments. This was the beginning of his fascination with Leica cameras, which led to his collection of twenty different Leica M bodies along with thirty or more Leica lenses with Leicavits modified to fit all his Leica M bodies. Jim used his much-loved Leica cameras until his death in 2010. Before Jim walked out his front door, he always reached for a Leica to put on his shoulder. It was a ritual he performed every day of his life. Every iconic photograph Jim took was captured with his Leica camera. As Jim once said, “it’s never been just a job, it’s been my life”.

 ©  Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press).
© Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press).

During the extraordinary rise of popular culture and counterculture in the 1960s, Jim Marshall (1936-2010) seemed to be everywhere that mattered. His images of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Brian Jones and Johnny Cash, and many more, are woven into the lore of the era. Because Jim lived life alongside his subjects and never betrayed their trust, he was granted second-to-none access.

Marshall saw himself as an anthropologist and a journalist, visually recording the changing times and explosion of creativity and celebrity of the 1960s and 1970s. He immersed himself in that world more than any other photographer and, in doing so, emerged an icon for a new generation of music, art and photography lovers. His images employed a minimum of artifice to document people and events. Not interested in conventional beauty or technical perfection, Marshall sought to capture character: the simple truth of whom a person is. His photo essays on civil rights and political unrest are a testament to his concern for the human condition.

In a career that ended with his untimely death in 2010, Marshall shot more than 500 album covers; his photographs are in private and museum collections around the world. Posthumously, Marshall holds the distinction of being the first and only photographer to be presented with the Recording Academy’s Trustee Award, an honorary Grammy presented to individuals for non-performance contributions to the music industry. The award was bestowed on the Jim Marshall estate in 2014 in recognition of Marshall’s unprecedented chronicling of music history from the 1950s through to the early 2000s.

 ©  Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press)
© Jim Marshall Photography LLC. From Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall (Reel Art Press)

Marshall is widely celebrated for his rock and roll photography. However, Marshall’s earliest music photos were taken in the jazz clubs he loved and frequented, and, during the 1960s, he photographed the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals that will be showcased in this exhibition at Leica Mayfair. Newport and Monterey were the first popular music festivals, taking place during one of the most important moments in the annals of jazz. 

With his inimitable eye, Marshall captured the freedom, the excitement and the intimacy of these joyful celebrations of jazz. Effortlessly cool, Marshall has preserved not only the performers and their private, unguarded moments, but the unique atmosphere and sense of lightness and openness of the audience; old and young, black and white. These extraordinary images reflect Jim Marshall’s unique talent and lifelong desire to ‘capture the perfect moment’.

All photographs are taken from a new book chronicling Marshall’s jazz festival photography, Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival. The photographs are available for sale. For more information on prints and book, please visit www.jimmarshalljazz.com.

The exhibition will be open for public viewing from 17 – 28 March 2017, Monday to Saturday, 10.00 – 18.00 at Leica Mayfair, 27 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NQ.




  1. I have this wonderful book, but that is no surprise as jazz and photography are two of my main interests. The droll look from Johnny Hodges (alto sax with Duke Ellington for many years) in the first photo is both characteristic and priceless. Marshall’s book shows not just musicians, but also other changes in the 1960s such as audience racial mixes at jazz events, dress styles and the advance of rock. Another recent good book in this genre, but probably harder to find, is a collection of jazz photos by Ted Williams who is pictured in the book toting an LTM Leica with a 135mm Elmar or Hektor. My favourite jazz photographers include William Claxton (he used Leicas, Nikons and Rolleis), Herman Leonard and William Gottlieb. The latter two often used large format cameras even in smoky clubs and the image quality of their work under club lights is stunning. I have a print of a photo of Louis Armstrong taken by Gottlieb at Carnegie Hall in early 1947 with a borrowed trumpet after his own had been stolen. According to the guy (a recognised curator) who sold it to me (I got it for a very small price) the print was made for Gottlieb himself by the head photo printer at Time magazine.

    If I were in London I would definitely visit the Marshall exhibition.



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