Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jack Bradley, Louis Armstrong photographer and devotee, dies at 86

Jack Bradley, a fan admirer of Louis Armstrong who became his personal photographer, died on March 21 in Brewster, Mass., Cape Cape, creating an indelible and intimate record of the jazz giant’s past dozen years. He was 87.

The cause was attributed to Parkinson’s disease, by his wife, Nancy (Eckel) Bradley.

Mr. Bradley first attended a concert by Armstrong and his band on Cape Cod in the mid-1950s. “I never heard anything like In an interview in 2012, he said For a documentary about Armstrong, “Mr. Jazz, “ Directed by Michelle Sinek. “My life was never the same.”

Using a brownie, Mr. Bradley drew his first photo of Armstrong in another performance – the first of thousands, he as a devotee and then as part of his inner circle. He took pictures of Armstrong at his home in Corona, Queens; Backstage in quiet moments; In rehearsals and concerts; During the recording session; And in the dressing room.

“With that face and his beautiful smile,” Mr. Bradley was quoted as saying in the family-approved obesity, “How can anyone take a bad shot?”

Mr. Bradley did more than take photographs. He became a huge collector of anything related to Armstrong’s life and career: 16-millimeter films, reel-to-reel tapes of recordings and conversations, 78 rpm discs and LPs, magazines, manuscripts, sheet music, telegrams, fans Letters, statues – even Armstrong’s slippers and suits and a hotel laundry receipt containing “90 hanks” which he used to sweat with during the performance.

“One day Jack went to Louis’s study and Lewis was cutting the picture and the letters into tiny pieces,” Ms. Bradley said by phone. “Jack said, ‘No, you can’t do that!” And Louis said, ‘You have to simplify.’ This was history for Jack and should not have been thrown away.

Mr Bradley’s refusal to simplify replaced him as Armstrong Maven and led to a deal in 2005 in which the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation awarded Queens College $ 480,000 grant to acquire his collection To the Louis Armstrong House Museum, where Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, lived.

“Our cornerstone is Louis’s material,” Ricky Ricardi said, The museum’s director, collections, referring to the large contingent of material that left Armstrong behind when he died in 1971. But Jack is the perfect complement. Louis had a passion for documenting his life, and Jack was crazy for documenting Louis’ life.

Museum collections, Now housed at Queens College, will be moved across the street from the museum to an education center to be completed, which has been closed during the Kovid-19 epidemic.

Mr. Bradley was not a salaried employee of Armstrong, but was compensated for each photo taken by Joe Glaeser, Armstrong’s manager. To earn extra money, Mr. Bradley also took some commercial photography jobs.

“I don’t think he ever made more than $ 10,000 in any given year,” said his friend Mike Persico.

Jazz critic and historian Dan Morgenstern has written to Mr Bradley in a Facebook tribute that he called him “one shot” because “he would snap just once, in part to save the film, but also because he kept his eye on it.” And relied on time. “

Mr. Bradley once photographed Armstrong naked from behind in the dressing room. According to Mr. Morgenstern, Armstrong, when he heard Mr. Bradley’s camera click, said, “I want one of them!” A large print of the photo hangs in Armstrong’s lair.

John Bradley III was born on January 3, 1934 in Cape Cod in Kotal. His mother Catherine (Beatty) Bradley did many jobs, including hairdressers. His father left the family when Jack was 10 years old.

A love of the sea prompted Mr. Bradley to attend the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, from which he graduated in 1958. He then left for Manhattan, where he immersed himself in jazz clubs and met Jean Fellowes, who helped Glaser respond. Armstrong’s mail. He and Mr. Bradley begin dating, and Armstrong is convinced to see him with him that Mr. Bradley is someone he can trust.

“What we usually did,” Mr. Bradley said in 2011, using one of Armstrong’s nicknames to the Jazztimes, “was a unilateral love for music. Popes never sought fame for that.” Just wanted to play his horn. Louis had a message – a message about excellence.

“I never met a person who had more talent for music,” he continued. “He could hear something once, and it was locked in his brain forever.”

Mr. Bradley was often in favor of my Armstrong from 1959 to 1971, sometimes busy him at Armstrong’s house and driving for hours. In all, the self-taught Mr. Bradley took an estimated 6,000 photographs of Armstrong.

A sequence of photos, Taken in December 1959, shows Armenong warming up before a concert at Carnegie Hall and jamming with his band before taking to the stage, then later greeting friends and fans outside the stage door Returns the autograph for.

Mr. Bradley’s focus was not entirely on Armstrong. He photographed several other jazz artists and is said to have taken one of his last photographs Billy Holiday In performance – in May 1959 at the Phoenix Theater in Greenwich Village. (He died in July.)

In the 1960s, he was a merchant marine and managed Bourbon Street, a jazz club in Manhattan for a year. In the 1970s he was a participant in the New York Jazz Museum in Midtown Manhattan. He also spent time as a road manager for pianist Errol Garner and trumpeter Bobby Hackett.

Mr. Bradley returned to live in Cape Cod in 1977 after the closure of the Jazz Museum. He became a charter boat captain, lecturing locally on jazz and hosting a local radio program on which he interviewed jazz musicians. His wife taught high school Spanish.

Mr. Bradley demolished his vast jazz memorabilia collection – of which Armstrongiana was only a part of his modest home in Cape Cod in Harvick.

“He was in cupboards, attic, shoeboxes, sea chests, cellar, attic, everything but oil drums,” Mr. Persico, who has helped organize the collection.

Mr Bradley died in a nursing facility in Brewster. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sisters, Amy Shanley and Bonnie Jordan, and his brother, Bob.

Ms. Bradley stated that she had no objection that she was married to Armstrong.

“It was fine,” he said. “The third man was very funny.”

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