Ted Williams

Ted Williams (1925-2009) first heard jazz on the radio as a youngster in the 1930s in Wichita, Kansas. The sounds of Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway broadcast from Chicago's legendary Grand Terrace Ballroom inspired him and in the late 1940s, Williams merged his love of music and photography and moved to Chicago where he captured unguarded photographic studies of some of the era's greatest jazz musicians.

His work appeared in major international publications including Time, Newsweek, Look, Playboy and Ebony. His coverage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival landed him a spectacular 21-page layout in Down Beat magazine. Williams was active on the jazz scene from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. He photographed many of the greats in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. Williams’ historic archive runs to more than 100,000 images and comprises perhaps the most intimate and complete collection of Jazz’s greatest musicians at work, rest and play.

Ted Williams Iconic News

Harry Carney

Iconic Spotlight : Harry Carney, by Ted Williams

“Harry Carney’s baritone saxophone was the anchor in Duke Ellington’s band from the age of sixteen until his death forty-eight years later. I had been doing a series of photo sessions in a studio near the Blue Note and I invited Harry to come in sometime so we could experiment visually with him and his horn.”

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Sarah Vaughan

Iconic Spotlight : Sarah Vaughan, by Ted Williams

This photo was taken on Sarah’s first national tour as a single. I was a student at The Institute of Design at the time, and called Sarah directly at her hotel (possible in those days) and received permission to photograph her in her dressing room for the next issue of a non-existent college newspaper.

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Ted Williams Press

Hearing Music in Photos of Jazz Giants

A good jazz photograph tells its story musically as much as visually. More than images of rock, classical or hip-hop musicians, jazz images, like those of Ted Williams, who studied saxophone and clarinet before picking up the camera after World War II, seem to capture the intangible essence of a thought being transformed into sound.

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