The Commercial Appeal, Saturday, November 11, 2006
By Pamela Perkins
Billie Holiday’s last recording session in the spring of 1959 didn’t go well, despite the sips of vodka she thought might help.
A photograph that the session’s bass player, Milt Hinton, snapped that day not only told the story of the session. It also seemed to have caught traits of her lauded voice: haunted, pensive, forlorn. She died July 17 that year.
Hinton’s powerful image can be seen with 49 others at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music’s “Milt Hinton: All That Jazz — Behind the Scenes Photographs of 20th Century Jazz” exhibit from its opening reception on Sunday through Jan. 29.
On loan from the New York City-based Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection, the exhibit includes images of history’s most important jazz figures: Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk as well as Mulgrew Miller, who was born in Greenwood, Miss., and studied in Memphis, and Aretha Franklin, who was born here.
Born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1910, Hinton was known as one of the world’s greatest jazz bass players, but he also was an avid photographer. His camera was usually with him, capturing images of decades of performances, recording sessions and the behind-the-scenes lives of his fellow jazz performers. Hinton died in 2000.
The exhibit also will feature the 57-minute PBS documentary “Keeping Time: The Life, Music, and Photographs of Milt Hinton” that contains interviews with Hinton as well as renowned entertainers Gregory Hines, Branford Marsalis, Doc Cheatham and Quincy Jones.
The opening reception, from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, will serve live jazz with hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks and a cash bar. Admission is $9 for the public and free to museum members.
In honor of the exhibit, the museum’s Last Monday in Studio A concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 27 will feature jazz artists Sal Crocker and Strictly Sax. That event also will include hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks and a cash bar. Admission is $20 to the public and free to museum members.
For more information, visit www.staxmuseum.com or call Tim Sampson at 261-6324 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.