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The Bob Parent Archive Project: A Photographer's Legacy Quietly Grows

AAJ Staff By

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Besides their countless newspapers and magazine appearances, Parent's photos have been in many books on music and politics, including Jazz Is by Nat Hentoff; Celebrating Bird by Gary Giddins, and Malcolm X Speaks. He created the art and cover designs for several Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington albums, among others.

Bob Parent's career paralleled a period in American culture that witnessed some of our greatest achievements, music perhaps first among them, as well as outsized personalities from all walks of life. Parent was there to record it all. He constantly attended concerts and visited artists at their homes and studios. He paid calls on everyone from jazz artists great and small to Marcel Duchamp in his New York apartment. He attended nearly every civil rights rally in New York and Washington in the 1960s and '70s. His output is staggering: there are more than enough photos, for example, to make a book of his portraits of Ellington, or to make a yearbook - say, "Jazz 1956" - that would be virtually definitive.

Because Parent never had time to organize his files fully, his Archive contains thousands of unknown treasures which are still being uncovered day after day.

In 1995, Dale Parent, Bob's nephew, inherited the Archive, along with the massive responsibility of both preserving it and making it available to educators, historians and museums, such as the Smithsonian, that have shown interest in using the photographs for the public benefit.

View the Bob Parent Archive at the AAJ Visual Arts Center.

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