Patrons at an AJASS concert, Club 845, Bronx, ca. 1956–57
In contrast to the single figures to the left, this engaging photograph demonstrated Kwame Brathwaite’s talent in depicting people in groups. In New York in 1956, Brathwaite and his brother, Elombe Brath, founded the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios (AJASS), whose concerts became the subject of many of Brathwaite’s earliest works such as this image. Here Brathwaite creates a composition of balance and depth within his preferred square format, while also sensitively reflecting each sitter’s individual expression and prose. Visually absorbing, the photograph also acts as a historical record of the New York jazz world in the 1950s to which Brathwaite and his family and friends were so deeply connected.