Herman Leonard died Saturday in Los Angeles at 87. He was not a musician, but a photographer who forged some of the most memorable images of musicians ever snapped. Jazz was his metier. He had moved to L.A. from New Orleans after Katrina drowned the city; he salvaged his negatives but lost 8,000 prints. His work is sold through his Web site hermanleonard.com.
It’s hard to pick one image that defines the Leonard style. Few photographers used dense blacks and shafts of brilliant light so effectively. The smoke-wreathed picture of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon at right has always been a favorite.
A new collection of Leonard’s work, “Jazz,” is being published in October.