Jack MitchellChoreographer Vicente Nebrada, and dancer Zane Wilson, nude, signed by Mitchell
13 x 19" lifetime vintage archival pigment color print approved by and signed by Jack Mitchell. Comes directly from the Jack Mitchell Archives with a certificate of authenticity. This photograph was from a session for After Dark magazine and was selected and signed by Jack Mitchell as one of his favorites. Jack’s artist statement on his work for the magazine: “After Dark was a magazine of entertainment, theater and the arts. It was a popular magazine, with a gay slant, enjoyed by many gay men, and some broad minded women and men. As well as (I learned years later) many closeted male youngsters. The magazine was ahead of its time, as advertisers were reluctant to place ads in an essentially gay magazine at that time. Today they swarm like bees to place their own hot ads in gay publications. I had been photographing on assignment for Dance Magazine well before After Dark was created. Being a friend of William (Bill) Como, the Editor, and being gay, I was called into service, for the life of the publication, to photograph many of the handsome young men and women, who were featured in After Dark. Needless to say, this was enjoyable work for me, Because, mixed in with the hot-looking young guys and gals sent to my studio were some famed performers like Debbie Reynolds, Giancarlo Giannini, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalie Wood, Placido Domingo, Sergio Franco, Leonard Bernstein, etc., all at the top of their careers. And there were the Warhol people, Ultra Violet, Sylvia Myles, Joe Dallesandro, Jane Forth, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Andy Warhol himself. Some days in my studio seemed like I was working in a candy factory, or a lunatic asylum filled with the most beautiful people in the world.” – Jack Mitchell, 2012 Jack Mitchell, (1925-2013) bulging photographic portfolio of actors, writers, painters, musicians and especially dancers describes a pictorial history of the arts in the late 20th century. Mr. Mitchell, who took hundreds of pictures for The New York Times, was both a portraitist and a capturer of complex motion. An expert in lighting, he worked mostly, though not entirely, in black and white, and he was known — by his subjects, by the magazine and newspaper editors he worked for, and by critics — as someone who could make a photograph reveal character. Jack Mitchell was the official photographer for the American Ballet Theater, and he chronicled the work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for more than thirty years. When he retired in 1995, he had fulfilled more than 5,000 assignments in black and white, and nearly a thousand in color. He photographed more than 160 covers for Dance magazine, and his photos have appeared in Time, Life, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Vogue and many other publications. Mitchell’s photographs are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, among others. The 2019 USPS Black Heritage postage stamp honoring American performer Gregory Hines was made from a Jack Mitchell photograph, and a Jack Mitchell photograph of Audre Lorde was transformed into a huge glass mosaic as a permanent installation at the 167th Street MTA subway station in NYC.
Jack Wilson, who has died at the age of 98, was the last - though by no means the least - of that elite band of pianists who flourished principally in the 1930s, playing what was then called rhythmic piano music. This style calls for virtuosity on a par with that required for the most difficult classical music, along with the rhythmic bounce more associated with jazz. Jack was one of its finest exponents, as his many recordings testify.
He was born in Bedworth, a small mining town near Coventry. His father, and most of his relations, were miners, but his mother was determined that her son was not going down the pit. So when, at the age of seven, he showed an aptitude for music, he was given every encouragement. His only tuition came from the music teacher at his primary school, but he got 100% in his first piano exam. After winning a scholarship to grammar school, he regularly played for school assemblies and the like.
Jack began his musical career in the cinema, playing the piano to accompany silent films. Upon leaving school, he got a job in the accounts office of the Triumph motorcycle company in Coventry. Here he founded a works orchestra, which he conducted. He founded his own dance band and left Triumph to work at Hansons, the major chain of music shops in the Midlands. Having successfully auditioned for the BBC in Birmingham, he made his first broadcast as a solo pianist on the Midland Regional Programme in February 1930. Subsequently, he teamed up with another pianist, Jack Venables, with whom he broadcast as the Two Knaves.
Never one to shirk work, Jack joined the Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra, then under the direction of Charles Shadwell. This was rated one of the finest theatre orchestras in the country, and it was Jack, an established broadcaster by this time, who suggested to the BBC that they might broadcast the orchestra. The weekly programme became immensely popular, and opened with a fast, four-bar piano break from Jack, followed by the orchestra's signature tune, I Want to Be Happy.
The composer Jack revered above all was Billy Mayerl; the two became friends, and in 1934 Mayerl dedicated his composition Nimble Fingered Gentleman, "To my friend, Jack Wilson". There is, however, an irony in this piece; Jack hated scales, and it was full of them. Jack's medley of Mayerl Melodies, also recorded in 1934, is unquestionably some of the finest playing of Mayerl's music on disc.
In the same year, at the request of the BBC, Jack formed a small group for broadcasting, which became known as Jack Wilson and his Versatile Five, and the group was a great success. The versatility lay in the fact that, apart from Jack, they were all multi-instrumentalists, which gave him immense possibilities in changing the tone colour in his arrangements. The Versatile Five were extremely popular, topping a countrywide poll in 1938 for the best light music ensemble. They made some now much sought-after records for Parlophone and topped the bill at the London Palladium on several occasions. In addition, they had many series on Radio Luxembourg.
Unfit for active service (he had been left with one eye as a result of a motorcycle accident when he was 16), during the second world war Jack played all over the country for the troops. He and Harry Engleman also played for all the Midlands editions of the popular BBC programme Workers' Playtime.
After the war Jack and Harry toured on the variety circuit as a two-piano act and, naturally enough, got their finest reception at the Coventry Hippodrome. In 1947 Jack and Harry gave a television broadcast from Alexandra Palace, but the music scene was changing in the postwar years, and Jack, sensing this, decided that he had had enough. In 1952, having made his final broadcast with the Versatile Five, he moved with his wife Thelma and son Tony to Worthing, where he worked as a tobacconist and an estate agent. He continued playing semi-professionally in Worthing clubs into the 1970s.
I first visited Jack in 1990, and he swiftly became a close friend. He would avidly discuss all sorts of music, but especially the work of Billy Mayerl and his contemporaries. In 1999 a CD was issued of his recordings, and at the launch in London Jack surprised and delighted everyone by playing a 10-minute medley of some of the old favourites, afterwards signing dozens of CDs.
Thelma, whom Jack married in 1935, died in 1988; his son also predeceased him. He is survived by his grandson Anthony.
· Jack Wilson, pianist, born September 28 1907; died January 12 2006
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.Jack Wilson Full Run - Australian Ninja Warrior 2017
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