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Book Reviews

Images of the Blues

By Published: March 8, 2004
The photographer Lee Tanner knew when he finished his book "Images of Jazz," that he wanted to do a similar volume on the blues. Unfortunately, he just didn't have enough images of his own to do it alone. So, Lee Tanner, the editor and curator, went about finding other photographers to share the bill. Obviously, he found just what he needed. Joseph Rosen, Val Wilmer, Stephen Green, Ebet Roberts and a dozen others contributed photographs to this amazing visual document that shows the faces of the blues in all its pain and glory. Lee's own images of Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams captures the light that both of these men posessed, within and without. Charles Peterson's image of "Leadbelly" is a photographic equivelent of the statues of Greek Gods, or the paintings of the masters. Joe Rosen's portrait of Joe Turner, wearily resting his head in his hand, while singing with eyes closed into a microphone placed directly in front of him, and Stephen Green's photo of Etta James singing on stage, arms uplifted, hands outstretched - all of these images allow us to feel, and hear, the blues. Etta James is quoted here saying, "I wanna show that gospel, country, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll are all just really one thing. Those are the American music and that is the American culture."

Overall, Lee Tanner and Lee Hildebrand, with the help of a dozen other writers, photographers, and the words of the musicians themselves, have helped Etta James make her point rather nicely.

For more information about "Images of Blues", go here.

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