10/24/09

Jazz Photographer Ted Williams Dies

Noted jazz photographer Ted Williams died on October 13. Williams was active on the jazz scene from the late ‘40s until the late ‘70s. He photographed many of the greats in jazz, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and Louis Armstrong. His photo library contains over 90,000 images and over 300 jazz artists. However, he didn’t just photograph jazz. Williams took assignments to shoot wars, sports and international cultures. His photos have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Playboy, Ebony and even JazzTimes. A sampling of his photos were included in the fifth volume of JT’s Indelible Images series curated by Lee Tanner.

Here is the biography that Williams wrote about himself for that issue:

“Born in Texas, I spent my early years in Kansas and Michigan before serving with the U.S. Coast Guard in the North Atlantic and Western Pacific during WWII. After briefly studying art and music (saxophone and clarinet), I attended the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Here I took classes with Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Buckminster Fuller and Art Siegel.

"Using Chicago as home base, I took photo-journalism assignments all over the U.S., as well as Europe, Latin America and the Far East for many of the major magazines such as Time, Newsweek, Ebony and Look. I covered jazz for Down Beat, Playboy and Metronome. During this period, I photographed all phases of the civil rights movement and in 1966 I covered the war in Vietnam for Ebony magazine and the AP agency. From 1967-72 I lived and worked in Mexico City and during this time covered the ‘68 Olympics for the Olympic Committee of Mexico and participated in a group exhibition at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City as part of the Cultural Olympics. I was also a partner and cinematographer at FORO 70, a small film production company specializing in educational and documentary films.

"Since then I have settled in Los Angeles and work as a free-lancer taking assignments from Ebony magazine, the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, and other media outlets. My recent exhibitions have been a one-man show in 1996 at Chicago’s South Shore Cultural Center, entitled Jazz; A Chicago Groove, and as participant in the group exhibit Images Of Music: Classical Through Rock at the Soho Triad Fine Arts Gallery in New York City. As a closer, I can sum up my feelings about my career: I just have a deep love for the music, the people and photography...and I have loved every minute of it!”

To see some of his photos, you can visit his Web site. He is also represented by Cynthia Sesso and CTSIMAGES.

2 Comments

  • Nov 30, 2009 at 04:57AM Dupsi

    A giant of a human being and an unparalleled artist. Ted loved photography and music with equal passion. He had an uncanny ability to see through the veneer into the soul of his subjects. His passage leaves us with a void that will be felt for a long time. Fortunately, he has left his mark on the world through his photographs. You will be greatly missed, my friend.

  • Jan 16, 2010 at 09:58AM Butch Weinberg

    I worked with ted in 1958 when he had 11 out of 12 Downbeat covers but the main thing he did was take a despondent possibly self destructive kid and took him under his wing and added another 50 or so years to his life.

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