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 John Falter's Jazz Portraits


One of American's best-known illustrators, John P. Falter,
was born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska in 1910 and grew up in Falls City. In addition to his famous Saturday Evening Post covers, Falter also completed a series of works based on his life-long interest in jazz music.

In the 1970s Falter made sketches from life at both the Colorado Jazz Party and the Odessa (Texas) Jazz Party.
The drawings from the Colorado Jazz Party formed the basis of his 1971 "Jazz from Life" portfolio of prints. Falter's jazz portraits successfully capture the immediacy and vibrancy of performers in action.

For many years I have thought about recording visually "jazz in action."   -- John Falter

The musicians are enthused, one of them saying, "John you painted me in A flat, my favorite key."  -- John Falter

Falter in his Philadelphia studio
during the 1970s

Donor: John P. Falter Collection

Falter released a folio of prints
titled "Jazz from Life: Original Lithographs of Jazz in Action" in 1971.

Based on quick "live" sketches, the folio includes many of the prints displayed here. The artist's press release of October 23, 1971, provides the quotes that accompany these works. Falter's own words best describe his feelings about jazz and his intentions while creating his own "jazz recordings."

Donor: Cliff's Notes, Inc.

Why are there several versions of the same portrait in this exhibit?

For some subjects, we are including Falter's original drawing, a lithograph print from his "Jazz from Life" series, and occasionally a second lithograph print. The multiple versions allow you to compare the artist's original quick sketch with the more finished print, noting the differences and similarities in design and details.

Lithography is an excellent technique to create multiple prints of a single image while still retaining the character and feel of the original. The prints from Falter's "Jazz from Life" series show a remarkable consistency with his original drawings, particularly those portraits created in pencil only.


Virtual Exhibits


Colorado Jazz Party

World's Greatest Jazz Band

   Lou Stein & Carl Fontana

   Vic Dickenson

   Ed Hubble

   Bobby Wilber & Bud Freeman

   Ralph Sutton

Jazz in Action

   Cliff Leeman

   Gus Johnson & Budd Johnson

   Willie "the Lion" Smith

   Benny Carter

   Teddy Wilson

   Dick Hyman

   John Mince

   Clark Terry & Zoot Simms

In the Studio

Pee Wee Erwin of Falls City

Odessa Jazz Party 1
Kai Winding, Milt Hinton, Bert Ellis, Ross Tompkins

   Bucky Pizzarelli

   Jack Lesberg

Odessa Jazz Party 2
Stan Wrightsman, Skeets Herfurt, "Wild Bill" Davison



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Last updated 11 April 2012

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