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Photographer Harold Feinstein, Blue Note veteran, dead at 84

Brian McCoy | Oakland Jazz Music Examiner
June 30, 2015 9:39 AM MST 
Harold Feinstein Select Blue Note Discography-slide0
Blue Note

One of the 20th century’s leading photographers, Harold Feinstein, has died. Here’s the lede from his New York Times obit.

Harold Feinstein, whose celebrated series of black-and-white photographs of Coney Island in the 1950s established him as one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience, and who went on to experiment with color and new digital techniques, died on June 20 at his home in Merrimac, Mass. He was 84.
Mr. Feinstein, a native of Coney Island, borrowed a Rolleiflex camera from a neighbor when he was 15 and set forth to record the sights and the people surrounding him. Early on, he exhibited an uncanny ability to capture spontaneous moments – sunbathers enjoying the beach, teenagers laughing on a plunging roller coaster – that pulled viewers into the city’s most famous seaside playground and the life of ordinary New Yorkers.

Less remembered is Feinstein’s tenure shooting and/or designing seminal jazz album covers for Blue Note. Here’s how the photographer described those days on his website.

On my first exposure to jazz I remember calling my old friend Bob Gill and asking: “Is this really music?” to which he responded simply – “yes, Harold.” Soon I was steeped in the culture with all its accoutrements and was never the same again.
Among the great memories and opportunities that came my way was hooking up with Alfred Lion, founder of Blue Note records, who frequented the loft. He’d seen a couple of record covers I’d designed for Signal Records (a short-lived jazz label) in 1955 and asked me if I would be interested in being a designer of Blue Note record covers. I jumped in.
He was a photographer in his own right and wanted to use his own photos, so I mostly did the design work and became one of the three people to really get associated with the label’s 1500 jazz series. The others were Andy Warhol and Reid Miles. 

Check out some of the best of Feinstein’s Blue Note output in the slideshow.

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