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Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival on Display in Mayfair with Leica UK

- 7 years ago

Leica UK has announced Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival: a new exhibition at its Mayfair studio, which will be open to the public between 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.

Photo credit Jim Marshall – Johnny Hodges at Monterey Jazz Festival 1961

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”.

Photo credit Jim Marshall – Johnny Hodges at Monterey Jazz Festival 1961

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.

Photo credit Jim Marshall – Johnny Hodges at Monterey Jazz Festival 1961

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.

Photo credit Jim Marshall – Johnny Hodges at Monterey Jazz Festival 1961

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.

Photo credit Jim Marshall – Johnny Hodges at Monterey Jazz Festival 1961

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

The exhibition takes place in association with Leica UK and 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.

All images © Jim Marshall Photography LLC. Selection taken from Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall [Reel Art Press]

About the author

Read Jim Marshall: Jazz Festival on Display in Mayfair with Leica UK

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.