JACKI LYDEN, host:
And we end tonight's show with a tribute to a luminary of the music world, though not a musician. William Claxton took some of the most recognizable photos in jazz. He died a week ago of congestive heart failure, just one day shy of his 81st birthday.
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LYDEN: Chet Baker was perhaps William Claxton's primary subject. The photographer took many moody images of the trumpeter and helped propel him to stardom. In one, Baker looks down at a piano keyboard, the background washed out by the light coming in from behind him, the outline of his head reflected in the closed piano lid. Claxton went on to shoot Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, the list is exhaustive. But in these photos, you won't find just shining trumpets and cigarette smoke. Claxton was a California boy and often took musicians out of the clubs and recording studios to photograph them on California's beaches, mountains, and deserts. The cool sounds of jazz captured in the state's vivid light.
He called his photography "Jazz for the Eyes." In 1999, he told NPR he saw big similarities between the two art forms. He said they both require an instrument that the musician or the artist has to learn very, very well, so it's almost second nature to them. Then the musician has to improvise in jazz for it to be jazz, and the photographer has to improvise too because everything happens in a split second. Those parting words tonight from the late photographer William Claxton. That's All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
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