Willie “The Lion” Smith by Arnold Newman (1960)

The photograph titled “Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith” was captured by Arnold Newman in New York in 1960. It depicts the jazz musician Willie “The Lion” Smith playing a piano in what appears to be a dimly lit club or bar. There are no patrons in sight, suggesting the setting is either after hours or in a moment of solitude. The image is monochrome, with high contrast that accentuates the smoky haze above the piano and the reflective surfaces of the room.

In the photograph, Willie Smith is centered, seated at the piano with his fingers on the keys, presumably in the midst of playing. He is wearing glasses, a hat, and a shirt with rolled-up sleeves. In front of him on the piano, there is an ashtray emanating a wisp of smoke, contributing to the atmospheric quality of the scene. The background is populated with tables and chairs, all unoccupied, and overhead lights which are blurred and cast a glow over the room. The composition and lighting create a mood that is both intimate and introspective, a captured moment where music and ambiance intertwine.

Other Photographs from Arnold Newman

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