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Milt Hinton
Billie Holiday, last recording session, studio, NYC
Black and white photograph

© 1988 The Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection

Excerpt from PBS - Independent Lens:

KEEPING TIME: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton

During his seven-decade-long career, legendary bassist Milt Hinton performed with nearly every major jazz artist alive, touring with Cab Calloway and performing with Aretha Franklin. KEEPING TIME: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton is a loving portrait of this remarkably creative and generous man, who not only made beautiful music, but also took some of the most unforgettable photographs of 20th-century American life. Snapping more than 60,000 pictures over the years, Hinton provided an insiders look at the world of American music, as well as American history, from touring the South in the 1930s to his death in 2000.

Hinton photographed Dizzy Gillespie when they shared Cab Calloway’s bandstand in the 1930s. He was shooting pictures as well as playing at Billie Holiday’s last recording session. He captured the legendary 1958 Esquire gathering of jazz greats in Harlem. A grandchild of former slaves, Hinton’s life brought him into contact with some of the most pivotal people and events of his time. In KEEPING TIME, he uses his vivid storytelling skills to recount the lynching he witnessed as a child in Mississippi, a summer job and his happy experience working for Al Capone as a teenager in Chicago, breaking the color line in the New York recording studios with the help of his friend Jackie Gleason, performing with such icons such as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Barbra Streisand, and, as an elder statesman of jazz, teaching, mentoring and performing around the world.

Unlike many people, Milt Hinton realized that he was living in a pivotal time in American history, a time of evolving civil rights as well as evolving musical styles. From his vantage point on stages across the country, on Pullman cars and tour buses and recording studios, Hinton’s photographs provide a window into the itinerant world of the musician: the joy of performing, the solitude and camaraderie felt by fellow band members. Featuring more than 30 recordings of Hinton’s music and told through interviews with Hinton as well as Amiri Baraka, Nat Hentoff, Gregory Hines, Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Doc Cheatham, Joe Williams, George Wein and others, KEEPING TIME intimately embraces the rich life of a remarkable musician who recognized and recorded history as he was living it, capturing his extraordinary spirit and solemn commitment to pass on his knowledge and experience to future generations.


Milt Hinton, American (1910-2000)
b. June 23, 1910, Vicksburg, MS
d. 2000

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