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Omar Clay

By Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal

Whenever there’s mention of the work of the late San Francisco photographer Jim Marshall, the first thing most people think of is rock ’n’ roll. A pioneering rock photographer, he was famous for his iconic images of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and many other bands and musicians from the heyday of rock in the late 1960s and ’70s.

But he actually began his career in 1959 and ’60, shooting black-and-white photos of jazz musicians at the Monterey and Newport jazz festivals with his ever-present Leica camera. Many of those photos, including a number of current and erstwhile Marin residents, are collected for the first time in a weighty new coffee table book, “Jazz Festival” (Reel Art Press, $75), covering the years 1960 through ’66. The majority of them have never been seen before by the public.

“Before there was rock, there was jazz,” says Amelia Davis, Marshall’s longtime assistant and heir to his estate. “People don’t realize that before Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin there was John Coltrane and Miles Davis.”