Lee Friedlander's reputation is founded upon an enormous diversity of work: his photographs range from landscapes to portraits, from street scenes to nudes, from industrial sites to flowers.
This new book reflects another of his passionate interests - music - especially the musicians of New Orleans whom he has been photographing since 1957. New Orleans, birthplace of jazz, was once home to such legends as Louis Armstrong and King Joe Oliver. Friedlander has photographed most of them, musicians like Manuel "Fess" Manetta, who was playing with bands before World War I and who once tried to teach Louis Armstrong to play with two trumpets at once. Here are Johnny St. Cyr, George "Kid Sheik" Cola, Sweet Emma Barrett, Isidore Barbarin and Roosevelt Sykes, blues singers and guitarists Robert Pete Williams and Snooks Eaglin. From the portraits we move out into the streets, to the marching bands like Young Tuxedo and Eureka, following Friedlander's eye to the edge of funerals until, finally, we are immersed in the rhythm of the city itself.
Many of Friedlander's subjects are encountered in an afterword by Whitney Balliett, America's foremost writer on jazz, who describes a visit he made to the city in the mid-sixties. The Jazz People of New Orleans is a remarkable testament, by a virtuoso photographer, to a city whose musical tradition is at the heart of American culture.