Thursday, January 28, 2010

Milt Hinton

“Over the years I've been asked why I took some of the photos I did. I think my answer surprises many people. When I took those early pictures of Dizzy Gillespie, we were both in Cab Calloway's band. Even back in those days I knew he was an innovator, but I never suspected that he would become a jazz legend. The same is true for other guys who were in the band like Ben Webster, Chu Berry, and Cozy Cole. They were my friends, and I wanted pictures of them so that, one day, we could all look back and remember the good times we shared in our youth.

At some point, probably in the early 1950s, I began to realize that I was experiencing jazz history firsthand. The music was changing rapidly, and new faces were always coming on the scene. Some of the greats, like Chu and Jimmy Blanton, were already gone, and others were well on their way to early deaths. I felt strongly about using my camera to capture some of the people and events that I was lucky enough to witness.

When I first started taking photographs I really didn't think about creating art. I was just a musician who happened to have a camera and wanted to document aspects of the jazz world I knew - on the road, backstage, at recording and T.V. studios, and festivals.

I began to see my photographs as art because, in recent years, they have been shown in museums and galleries and many people see them that way.

I've come to believe that art - in all of its forms - can reveal and preserve the spirit and essence of jazz, so that present and future generations can experience it.”

- Milt Hinton, Afterword

Seeing Jazz: Artists and Writers on Jazz
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1997.