An item in yesterday's Style section incorrectly identified the donors of Luis Jimenez's "Vaquero," a sculpture given to the National Museum of American Art. It was given by Judith and Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Anne and Ronald Abramson, and Thelma and Melvin Lenkin. (Published 9/11/ 90)

Herman Leonard is 67 years old and absolutely electric. He's standing in the middle of the Addison/Ripley Gallery among a few dozen photographs of jazz immortals he took 40-odd years ago in smoky nightclubs, recording studios and stages around the world. He speaks in bursts, peppering his sentences with "man" and poking his fingers in the air, as if he's conducting an orchestra. There's only a trace of gray in his longish, wavy hair. He's got the hipster outfit on -- round glasses, black shirt, gray sports jacket with the sleeves pushed up enough to reveal wristfuls of gold and silver bracelets, which jangle when he talks. This guy looks 40.

It must have been the soul of jazz that kept him young all these years. In the 1940s and 1950s, Leonard photographed the greatest names in the business -- Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Art Tatum, Billie Holiday ... the list leaves fans weak-kneed.

"Frankly, I had only taken these for myself," he says of the photographs that make up "Images of Jazz," a touring exhibit sponsored by Gilbey's Gin, which opened locally on Friday. "I didn't think anyone would buy them or care about them. Now everyone says, 'Why did you hide them?' I didn't hide them, it's just that artistically I didn't think they had any value."

Luckily for jazz and photography aficionados, Leonard found himself "starving" on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 1985 with his wife and two children and decided he needed to make some money again. "I had gone to Ibiza because I had just spent 20 years in Paris and London and Milan doing fashion and advertising," he says. "I got fed up with that, it was boring. So I moved to this island.

"It was cheap. We lived in a 300-year-old farmhouse, no heating or electricity," Leonard says, his voice rising as he describes a lifestyle he obviously misses. "I put in solar energy. But after a while the money started to go. I had to move back to a cosmopolitan life."

An old friend's inquiry about his jazz photos persuaded Leonard to take the box of negatives off a shelf and make some prints for a French photo book. That led to a successful gallery exhibit in London and an English edition of the book entitled "The Eye of Jazz," issued by Viking in 1989. Then Gilbey's offered to sponsor a traveling exhibition. There are limited edition prints available for sale at each tour stop, and the cash is flowing again.

"But the benefits aren't money," Leonard says. "What's really gratifying is the reaction of the people. I have the old gray-hair group saying, 'Oh, how it brings back all those wonderful times.' And there's 16- and 17-year-old kids saying things like, 'Man, thanks, because we love the music and now we can see visually what it was like.' "

Talking to people along the tour has jostled more than a few memories for Leonard too. One of his favorite subjects was Billie Holiday, who appears in one photo, eyes half closed, mouth open, a woman purging a tortured soul in song. "The last time I photographed her was in 1955," he recalls. "When she walked into the studio that night she was in bad shape, she had been drinking. I said {to the producer}, 'Hey man, I don't want to photograph this because it's sadness.' He said, 'You get your{self} out there and shoot, because this may be your last chance.' It was my last opportunity to photograph her. Two of those pictures are in the show. I don't show {the others} to anyone. But the ones in the show capture the pathos and emotion of this lady as she's singing."

He pauses for a moment and then says sadly, "I loved her as a person."

There are more stories, dozens of them. But that was then, this is now. And Leonard, the senior citizen hep cat, is moving forward. Saturday he left town to meet Quincy Jones in Los Angeles to shoot publicity photos for a celebrity benefit video. Among the subjects: Madonna, Paula Abdul and the Fresh Prince. "I admire these people," says Leonard. "My camera is the 'open sesame.' It's the key to getting in there and experiencing all that creativity. That's where it's at."

The exhibit will be on view until Sept. 28.

Gallery Openings & Outreach

This is a big week for galleries around town. Thursday between 6 and 8 p.m. marks the fall opening for the 22 members of the Dupont Circle Fine Art Galleries Association. There will be a new face in the area with the opening of the Corcoran Student Gallery at 18th and T streets NW, founded by two Corcoran students, Liz Kramer and Rochelle Antinucci.

The Franz Bader Gallery will open its doors Tuesday at its new location at 1500 K St. NW. The 3,600-square-foot gallery, one of the largest commercial spaces in the area, will feature four separate exhibition spaces.

If you have trouble catching a cab on Friday, it'll probably be because they're all in front of the National Museum of American Art. The museum has invited local cabbies to come by the museum's entrance at Eighth and G streets NW between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a free lunch and car air fresheners shaped like the NMAA's new outdoor sculpture, the 16 1/2-foot fiberglass "Vaquero." Depicting a man riding a bucking bronco, it was donated by artist Luis Jimenez and was installed in June.

"The main purpose of the party is for the museum to inform the cab drivers of where the museum is," said Diana Voorthuis, a docent at the NMAA. "Oftentimes, when you say tell a cab driver you want to go there, everyone heads for the Mall, thinking it's the National Gallery of Art."