Jerry Dantzic: Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill

& others. Thames & Hudson. Apr. 2017. 144p. photos. ISBN 9780500544655. $40. PHOTOG
There have been many volumes of photography published on famous jazz singer Billie Holiday. This book of photographs by the late Dantzic (1924–2006), curated by his son Grayson Dantzic, features rare images that document specific performances by Holiday at the Sugar Hill Jazz Club in Newark, NJ. Dantzic's intimate portraits honor this period in Holiday's life, just two years before her untimely death at age 44. Dantzic works with a Leica camera and Kodak Tri-X black-and-white film. Often shooting indoors and with a slow shutter, he captures a good deal of motion blur that give the images a gritty look and feel. When Holiday is performing, Dantzic frequently shoots from a low vantage point to emphasize her larger-than-life stature. Dantzic also provides a rare view into the everyday life of this mythic performer, which includes playing with her chihuahua Pepi, walking in New York City, interacting with friends, and relaxing in their West 93rd Street apartment. The most interesting features are the contact sheets from Dantzic's black-and-white negatives, along with a detailed narrative about each performance and shoot. Also included is "Crazy They Call Me," a stylistic introductory essay by novelist Zadie Smith.
VERDICT Recommended for photography enthusiasts, fans of Holiday, and jazz history buffs.

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