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Playing The Changes: Milt Hinton's Life In Stories And Photographs

AAJ Staff By

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Playing The Changes: Milt Hinton's Life In Stories And Photographs
Milt Hinton, David G. Berger and Holly Maxson
Hardcover; 364 pages
ISBN: 0826515746
Vanderbilt University Press

Perhaps no one captured jazz in as much of its candid glory as bassist Milt Hinton, who seemed to have one hand on his camera with the other not far from his instrument's strings from the 1920s until his passing in 2000.

Hinton captured moments that have since become classic images and now function as invaluable time capsules: singer Billie Holiday's last recording session; fellow pianists Willie "The Lion" Smith with Eubie Blake and with Duke Ellington; the historic Sound Of Jazz rehearsals and what has become known as the Great Day In Harlem 1958 photo shoot. Of the 260 pictures included in this new tome, over half are previously unpublished.

Hinton's sense of timing as player, photographer and writer is evident throughout. His autobiography is full of fond and vivid memories: childhood in a segregated South; struggles as a young boy turned musician in the Midwest and his myriad musical associations: violinist Eddie South (an early idol, along with Ellington bassist Wellman Braud, who was responsible for Minton's move to New York City), Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway—one of his significant longtime bosses—and many others.

Hinton's story in words and photos is essential for anyone interested in jazz and its American roots. The book, and its accompanying 31-track CD, is a seminal history textbook and makes clear why jazz is commonly referred to as "America's classical music."


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