Jean Germain – Jazz from Row Six

Jean Germain
Jazz from Row Six
Photographs 1981-2007
New Chapter Publishers – 2009

These photographs from more than 25 years of jazz festivals in Sarasota, Florida, capture legends of the Big Band era, including regular participants like Milt Hinton, Bucky Pizzarelli and Dick Hyman, and visitors like Tito Puento, Gerry Mulligan, Eartha Kitt, Lionel Hampton and George Shearing.

Unlike posed studio shots, these dynamic portraits reveal the unique passion and energy for music that kept many of these jazz greats performing well into their 80s and 90s. Jean Germain loves photography, and she loves jazz. Combining the two resulted in a series of magical portraits of great musicians, many from the Big Band era, performing the music they love and passing on their craft to younger players.


A chance meeting with Hal Davis, who served as Benny Goodman’s publicist for 35 years, led to her becoming a founding member of the Jazz Club of Sarasota. Davis asked her to become the official club photographer for the annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, and Jean found a new passion. From her seat in the sixth row at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, she captured images of musical legends such as Dick Hyman, Eartha Kitt, Milt Hinton, Lionel Hampton, Doc Cheetham, Jerry Mulligan, George Shearing, Cleo Laine and Marian McPartland.

Not being able to move around or use a flash during the performances forced Jean to become creative, and she turned to using fast film and special filters. The resulting photographs range from clear to Impressionistic images that capture the essence of the smooth riffing, playful jamming and interweaving improvisations of jazz. She also created several series of stop-action photographs that reveal the excitement of the musicians’ action and movement in performance.

Many of the performers became regulars at the annual festival, and Jean’s photos of them over the course of 25 years convey the inevitable passing of time as well as the energy, passion and spirit of these jazz greats, for whom music burns like an immortal flame, no matter what their age.

Jean captures her subjects in a warm embrace of appreciation. Her photographs have won numerous awards, and they’ve been well received in exhibitions, including a 125-piece show entitled “Jazz Alive.” Now “Jazz from Row Six” collects the best of these images in a book designed to appeal to both lovers of jazz and admirers and collectors of fine photography.