ROY DECARAVA (1919 - 2009) Bass Player, Small's, New York.
Silver print, 1956, printed in 1981. 355x279 mm; 14x11 inches. Signed, dated and inscribed "printed in 1981" in ink, left edge verso.
Provenance: private collection, New York (1982), purchased from Witkin Gallery, New York.
Roy DeCarava frequently photographed jazz musicians throughout New York City. DeCarava was interested in documenting the essence, versatility, and talent of both famous and less well-known jazz musicians. The dark basements of jazz clubs and their nocturnal activities were also well suited to his aesthetic. DeCarava here captures the image of a bassist passionately playing the double bass while sweating profusely at Smalls Paradise.
Smalls Paradise (often called Small's Paradise and Smalls' Paradise, was a nightclub in Harlem, located in the basement of 2294 Seventh Avenue. It opened in 1925 and was owned by Ed Smalls a nightclub owner throughout the Harlem Renaissance. During the era, Smalls Paradise was the only well-known of the Harlem nightclubs to be African American owned and integrated. It became the longest-operating jazz club in Harlem before it closed in 1986.