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Jerry Dantzic: Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: With a reflection by Zadie Smith
     

Jerry Dantzic: Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: With a reflection by Zadie Smith

by Jerry Dantzic, Grayson Dantzic (Text by), Zadie Smith (Introduction)
 
A vivid, intimate, and largely unseen photographic chronicle of one week in the life of jazz icon Billie Holiday
In 1957, New York photojournalist Jerry Dantzic spent time with the iconic singer Billie Holiday during a week-long run of performances at the Newark, New Jersey, nightclub Sugar Hill. The resulting images offer a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of Billie

Overview

A vivid, intimate, and largely unseen photographic chronicle of one week in the life of jazz icon Billie Holiday
In 1957, New York photojournalist Jerry Dantzic spent time with the iconic singer Billie Holiday during a week-long run of performances at the Newark, New Jersey, nightclub Sugar Hill. The resulting images offer a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of Billie with her family, friends, and her pet chihuahua, Pepe; playing with her godchild (son of her autobiography’s coauthor, William Dufty); washing dishes at the Duftys’ home; walking the streets of Newark; in her hotel room; waiting backstage or having a drink in front of the stage; and performing. The years and the struggles seem to vanish when she sings; her face lights up. Later that same year, Dantzic photographed her in color at the second New York Jazz Festival at Randall’s Island. Only a handful of the photographs in the book have ever been published. In her text, Zadie Smith evokes Lady Day herself and shows us what she sees as she inhabits these images and reveals what she is thinking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/03/2017
For several nights in April 1957, photographer Jerry Dantzic (1925–2006), on assignment for Decca Records, photographed Billie Holiday at Newark’s Sugar Hill jazz club. This coffee table book features 100 of those photos and beautifully captures Holiday on a cigarette-hazed bandstand, wearing a bare-shouldered, sequined dress, performing songs such as “Fine and Mellow,” “Don’t Explain,” and “Strange Fruit.” Taken one year after the publication of her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, and two years before her untimely death at age 44, the photos reveal a deeply personal and vibrant side of Holiday. There are images of Louis McKay, Holiday’s husband, zipping up her dress in their hotel; the singer’s loving play with her infant godson, Bevan; and her tender embrace of her pet Chihuahua, Pepi, backstage. Also included are color photos of Holiday performing at the second annual New York Jazz Festival that same year, images of Newark in late 1950s, and extensive technical photography notes by Jerry Dantzic’s son, Grayson, who is a photo archivist. A moving essay by novelist Smith sums up Holiday’s eternal beauty: “Whenever a lady shows up on stage she’s always right on time.” (May)
New York Times' Lens
“Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill adds a quiet new dimension to the story we thought we knew about Holiday. With Jerry Dantzic, she revealed homier sides of her life which needed no explanations and invited no judgments: at home with her husband or her dog, or visiting her co-author and her godchild. In these images and in Mr. Dantzic's performance shots, she is not the tragic torch singer of myth but a middle-aged woman finding simple comforts from the maelstrom, no longer as sharp in her voice but undiminished in her ability to command a stage.”
Booklist
“Dantzic’s high-contrast, black-and-white images of the singer on stage are powerful and iconic and reveal an artist truly in her element. Zadie Smith opens this collection with a reflection inspired by the photographs, an evocative stream-of-consciousness prose poem that suggests the mindset of Lady Day.”
The Washington Post
“A sleek coffee table book of photographs, many never seen before, [that] is a reminder that between the fame and the infamy, normal life happens. It’s the everyday nature of these black-and-white photographs that makes them so unusual. [Billie] Holiday is pictured walking into the club before a performance; putting on her makeup in front of a dressing room mirror; being licked on the cheek by her Chihuahua; holding her blond-haired godson in her arms; or leaning over a pan in her friend’s kitchen. British novelist Zadie Smith, who sang jazz before she began publishing fiction, provides a curious introduction to the book: a short story written from Holiday’s point of view.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500544655
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
04/18/2017
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
217,803
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 11.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Dantzic was a photojournalist whose photographs have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Life, Look, Vanity Fair, and American Photo. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Grayson Dantzic, the son of Jerry Dantzic, is a photographer and photo archivist. He edited and wrote the introduction for Jerry Dantzic's New York: The Fifties in Focus.

Zadie Smith is an English novelist, essayist, and short story writer.

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