The publication of Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall is a celebration of the once hippest, coolest culture on earth — but it’s also a sepia spy on an elegant age as gone as the giants who peopled it: Coltrane, Simone, Monk, Miles, Ellington, et al. The great photographer Marshall was not just on the skin of the Sixties jazz scene, but seemingly in its bloodstream. These intimate shots might fill anyone — even non-jazz fans — with nostalgia for sharper age, its racial problems (and more) under siege by music and meritocracy that promised fusion in more than just a musical sense.
So it’s not an utter surprise to see even former president Bill Clinton contributing an essay to Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall. Clinton came of age just as jazz was being toppled by rock and roll — and the saxophone-playing Southerner never quite made the transition. Clinton asked rock outfit Fleetwood Mac to play at his inauguration, but he’d surely have wanted Duke Ellington were it just his own private party. Jazz has welcomed Clinton into the fold, too. In 2014 Clinton was awarded the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’s honorary Founder’s Award, which was handed to him by music legends Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Clinton played in The Three Kings jazz trio when he was in high school. His foreword to Jazz Festival comes from the heart.