Drummer Gene Krupa performing at Gjon Mili’s studio. NYC, 1941

*Amazing* photographs from LIFE Magazine’s photo archives. Originally featured in the July 9th, 1941 article, “GENE KRUPA SHOWS HOW TO PLAY DRUM IN THESE FANTASTIC SOUND PICTURES.

In these unusual shots Krupa illustrates some rudiments of drumming. They were taken by Gjon Mili’s multiple-exposure camera so you could follow the track of Krupa’s drumsticks whizzing through the air. But they are interesting also as impressionistic portraits of sound, suggesting the rhythmic pandemonium of a Krupa jam session.

….As a drum historian, he likes to tell how Napoleon Bonaparte was once defeated by Russians who were roused to a fighting frenzy by Cossack drummers. Says Krupa proudly, “I have Cossack blood myself.”

Also, be sure to follow the LIFE Tumblr.

By the way, for all you bums tumbling without credit, this photo is by George H. Barker for The Tennessean (which has a lot of great Elvis photos), during the June 10, 1958 RCA studio session in Nashville. Perhaps he’s taking a break with Chet Atkins, Hank Garland, and the Jordanaires after recording I Need Your Love Tonight or A Big Hunk o’ Love? A little credit/context goes a long way.

And now back to our regularly scheduled non-cranky programming.

[If I could have lunch with one person I’ve never met] I would have to say Isaac Newton or Benjamin Franklin. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and some uninteresting ones, too. The two men had a bigger grasp of the world they lived in. But I don’t think I would pass up an opportunity with Sophia Loren.

Warren Buffett.

Sophia Loren
. Rome, June 1961. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.


Alexis Madrigal reflects on a time when photographs resembled paintings:

Many works like Edward Steichen’s “Flatiron—Evening Camera Work 14” (above) play with fog and smoke. They hide things in the greyscale and even tend toward a hazy abstraction. Everything becomes a little harder to see and a bit more romantic. I’d long, lazily assumed that turn-of-the-century photos looked like this because of technical reasons, that this was just how cameras made photos at the time. That’s not true. These photographers were skilled enough and their techniques good enough that they could have made razor sharp portraits, but they didn’t. Instead, we have two decades where the best photographs work like memories not recordings.