The Sound of Jazz, which aired on December 8, 1957 as part of CBS Television’s Seven Lively Arts series is still considered one of the most authentic programs on jazz ever produced. It seamlessly combined elements of several eras of jazz in unadorned and relaxed settings. Count Basie was one of the many jazz luminaries to lend their presence to the broadcast, with others including Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Giuffre, Jim Hall, Pee Wee Russell, Rex Stewart, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Harry Carney, Red Allen, Milt Hinton, Gerry Mulligan and Basie alumni Lester Young, Dicky Wells, Earle Warren, Jo Jones, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Newman and Emmett Berry.
The vitality of The Sound of Jazz was equaled by photographs of the event by one of the most heralded bass players in the history of the music. Milt Hinton had first carried a camera on the road with him (and to every other imaginable venue where jazz artists congregated) in the late 1930s when he was in Cab Calloway’s band. Over the next six decades, Hinton produced the greatest visual insider account of jazz.
Hinton’s Sound of Jazz photo essay demonstrates the best qualities of his work: a knowing eye that captured personal and musical relationships among the artists, the atmosphere in which they lived and created, and the sense that what passed before him would become history and matter to posterity. Hinton’s work was presented in two fine books of photographs and commentary: Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton (Temple University Press, 1988) and Overtime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton (Pomegranate Artbooks, 1991). Hinton died on December 19, 2000 at the age of 90.