Stormy Monday: New York’s Uptown Jazz Scene is a photography book about jazz and about Harlem.  The photographs were taken in various clubs, pubs, bars and lounges primarily in the Harlem community of New York City.  These are neighborhood places where musicians come to jam with each other and hone their skills, and patrons come to have a few drinks, enjoy the music and hang out with old friends.  The photographs roughly cover the period from 1994 through 2005, with most of the images depicting the mid-1990’s, before Harlem became hot real estate territory and the scene started to change.

The title is derived from T-Bone Walker’s blues song “Call It Stormy Monday” and from the fact that most of the jam sessions were held on Monday nights, when most professional musicians are off from their paying gigs and are free to play where and what they want.  However, not only are musicians depicted in this series, but dancers, bartenders, barflys, hustlers, lovers and others are prominently featured.  The activity takes place in some of uptown’s most venerable music spots:  St. Nick’s Pub, Lenox Lounge, the Gold Brick Inn, Casablanca Lounge, La Famille and many others, some of which no longer exist.  Without paying a cover charge or too much for a few drinks, a person could hang out until three or four in the morning in these small joints listening to some of New York’s finest musicians.  And one of the most unique features of these clubs (as distinguished from their downtown counterparts) was the communal atmosphere that permeated the rooms and blurred the line between performer and audience. 

The images are available in 16”x20” and 11”x14” gelatin silver prints personally made by the artist.  The book, which was published in 2008, is a paperback edition that features 92 images and includes an essay by noted scholar and Columbia University professor Robert G. O’Meally.

“Cyrus does not photograph, he captures - the mood, the time, the ambiance. His work from New York’ city’s jazz scene is both impeccable and nostalgic. His eye conveys the energy of the music and subjects perfectly, but he clearly does not fall in love with his greatness. Always working, always pushing for new angles and boundaries, Cyrus’ work is genius.”

-Summers Jackson

Stormy Monday Review

STORMY MONDAY: New York's Uptown Jazz Scene

Paperback, 2008 - 92 images

Essay by Robert G. O'Meally, Founder of the Columbia University Center for Jazz Studies

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