“The special quality of these photographs is in their iconic beauty, the way Herman Leonard made up the language of jazz photography, the fact that when people think jazz, more often than not, they see his photographs. There’s something else, something indefinable that is revealed in the photographs – Herman really knew his subjects. They were his friends. They gave him access.
The photographs – Billie Holiday just released from jail and Frank Sinatra melancholy in a recording session – show an intimacy and trust, and a kind of love for the man on the other side of the camera who always holds the truth.
Herman was in love with his subjects and the musicians knew it. They let him in not just because he took wonderful photographs and evolved as a master print-maker, a genius at exquisite detail, of light and shade, but because you couldn’t make these pictures unless you were Herman.” – Wynton Marsalis.
“Herman’s camera tells the truth, and makes it swing. Musicians loved to see him around. No surprise; he made us look good.” – Quincy Jones.
Herman Leonard (2010). Jazz. Atlantic Books, London. Forward by Wynton Marsalis.