'Keeping Time': The Photos and Jazz of Milt Hinton

Hinton's candid photo of jazz musicians gathered for the famous Esquire photo shoot by Art Kane. (First row) George Wettling and Bud Freeman. (Second row) Jo Jones, Gene Krupa and Sonny Greer. (Third row) Miff Mole, Zutty Singleton, Red Allen and Taft Jordan. (Top Row) Dickie Wells, Buck Clayton, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Hilton Jefferson and Art Blakey. Esquire Magazine Photo Shoot, Harlem, New York. c. 1959.

Cab Calloway with kids

hide captionCab Calloway with kids and winner of the 'Calloway Quizical,' Providence, R.I., c. 1938.

Milt Hinton/Courtesy of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection
Billie Holiday

hide captionBillie Holiday (last recording date), recording studio, New York, 1959.

Milt Hinton/Courtesy of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection

The cliché "the hardest working man in show business" has been applied to countless musicians, but it's hard to argue with anyone who puts that label on bass player Milt Hinton.

Born in Mississippi in 1910, Hinton moved to Chicago in the late '20s, played with Cab Calloway for many years and ended up in New York as one of the city's first black session musicians. Before his death in 2000, Hinton played for thousands of commercials, soundtracks, club dates and recording sessions, but "the dean of jazz bass players" had another great artistic passion: photography.

In the 1930s, Hinton began snapping pictures of friends and fellow band members, eventually taking more than 60,000 photos over the following six decades. His collection includes stunning shots of the musicians he played with, from Billie Holiday to Dinah Washington to Dizzy Gillespie.

A new documentary for Public Television's "Independent Lens" series spans the extraordinary musical life and photography of Hinton. David Berger and Holly Maxson are the husband-and-wife filmmakers behind Keeping Time: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton.

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