See the Photographs That Captured the Icons of Jazz

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Ted Williams started his career far from the limelight, serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. But he took up saxophone and clarinet when he returned stateside, and then studied photography at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and immersed himself in the city’s jazz scene. The combination of music and visual art would make his career, which is explored in the new ACC Editions book Jazz: The Iconic Images of Ted Williams. From the 1940s through the 1970s, his images appeared in TIME, Newsweek, Playboy and Ebony, and he got up-close with music greats Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones —as the above photos show.

“Critically, Williams’ photo archive comprises one of the largest collections of pictures of Duke Ellington taken by a single photographer,” notes culture critic James Clarke in the book’s introduction. “The Ellington photos are especially important to jazz history as they include rare images depicting the artist in non-musical situations,” from eating an ice pop in Chicago with friends to yukking it up with guests at his Christmas party.

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There’s some fun trivia about the stars in Williams’s behind-the-scenes commentary on the behind-the-scenes photos, too. “John Birks Gillespie, in spite of his famous nickname, was not ‘Dizzy,'” he says. “His friends called him Birks.” He also recalls smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe filled with “green tobacco” with the musician on the way to a hotel. “I was still in good enough shape to focus…Birks stayed mellow… probably for a week!” Another quirk: Thelonious Monk wanted vodka, fresh oranges and ice cream before an interview with the music magazine Metronome.

Dizzy Gillespie by Ted Williams.
On September 15, 2016, ACC editions will be releasing a comprehensive survey of the jazz photography of Ted Williams, much of it never published before. Born in 1925, Williams photographed jazz legends from the late 1940s through the 1970s and is considered one of the great photographers of the genre. From Duke Ellington to Quincy Jones, the images that follow are just a small sampling of an iconic career in jazz photography. Pictured here: American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and singer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie performing on stage.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Armando Peraza, Helen Merrill, "Cannonball" Adderley, Al McKibbon, with Toots Thielmans and Oscar Peterson reflected in the mirror, backstage at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, 1957.
Armando Peraza, Helen Merrill, "Cannonball" Adderley, Al McKibbon, with Toots Thielmans and Oscar Peterson reflected in the mirror, backstage at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, 1957.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Mahalia Jackson by Ted Williams
Portrait of American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, often referred to as "The Queen of Gospel." this photoshoot was commissioned by DownBeat magazine and the story was published on Dec. 11, 1958.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Duke Ellington by Ted Williams.
American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, playing piano while smoking a cigarette during a recording session, Chicago,1966.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Johnny Hodges by Ted Williams.
A portrait of American alto saxophonist, John Cornelius "Johnny" Hodges, holding his saxophone. Best known for his solo work with Duke Ellington's big band, Hodges was featured on a countless number of performances with Ellington and also had many chances to lead recording dates with Ellington's sidemen.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Dinah Washington by Ted Williams.
American singer and pianist Dinah Washington singing at a rehearsal during Newport Jazz Festival, Rhode Island, 1958.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Quincy Jones by Ted Williams.
American record producer, conductor, arranger, composer and musician Quincy Jones playing piano at his home.Ted Williams—Iconic Images
Sonny Rollins by Ted Williams.
Portrait of American jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins rehearsing in front of a mirror before a concert at the Civic Opera House, Chicago, US, 1956.Ted Williams—Iconic Images

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