Herman Leonard opened his own studio in 1948, in New York and he promptly began to frequent jazz clubs where he depicted musicians with portraits or during their performances with the help of precise compositions and powerful lights. Not only did he represent individuals but did the American photographer manage to recreate an atmosphere made of the smoke of cigarettes, perspiration and alcohol: a noirish dramatic reality that resembled films noirs: ‘His photographs are probably the single best visual representation of what jazz sounds like.’ Because he could only use two lights in the dark clubs he explored, Herman Leonard made of this constraint, the signature of his style that diffused the mere essence of jazz. Having settled in his late years, in New Orleans, the photographer lost all his personal collection during the Katrina storm. Hopefully, all his negatives were securely kept in a museum. A chance at a time when watching people enjoy a cigarette in nightclubs looks like the ultimate freedom.