Photography exhibit shows faces of Kansas City jazz

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December 20th, 2012

Omaha, NE – The jazz scene in Kansas City – with all its smoky bars and vibrant sounds – is captured in a new exhibit on display at Love’s Jazz and Art Center.

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Elmer Price by Dan White.

Elmer Price by Dan White.

“They tell a story just even in the pictures,” said Janet Ashley, program director of Love’s Jazz, as she led me through the latest exhibit at the museum, which is located in the heart of North Omaha where the city’s own jazz history has its roots.

“We have here on display here the Fine Art of Jazz,” Ashley said, pointing to a series of 50 black and white photographs by Dan White. White is a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer who spent two decades capturing the jazz scene in Kansas City. The images are primarily portraits – some still and contemplative, others caught up in the painful or blissful emotion of a song or melody. “He took the time in getting to know the artists,” Ashley said, “and just by getting to know them, it set the scene for his backdrop of each photo so that it tells a story.”

Queen Bey by Dan White.

Queen Bey by Dan White.

“Without even reading the history, you look at the picture and it pulls you in,” she said.

White completed his collection in 2006. The portraits, which include images of jazz greats like Jay McShann who passed away in 2006, also feature some modern performers, like Angela Hagenbach, who will perform at Love’s Jazz on January 5th to close out the exhibit.

“She was inspired by Sarah Vaughn singing ‘Black Coffee,’” Ashley said, “and she has that wonderful smooth, contralto voice like Sarah Vaughn did.”

“She’s a beautiful girl on top of that,” Ashley added, “so we’ll be honored to have her in our presence.”

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