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William Claxton

(10/12/1927 - 10/11/2008)

William Claxton

In 2008, we sadly lost one of the great recorders of the only true American musical art form-jazz. Bill Claxton worked primarily on the West Coast, and I worked primarily on the East Coast. Although we were separated by 3,000 miles, we were joined together by a mutual love for photography and jazz. If it had not been for Claxton’s devotion and artistry we would not today have a visual record of many of the great musicians in this field.

Bill’s unique quality, aside from his expertise in photography, was his ability to inspire total confidence and trust in his subjects. He established personal and intimate relationships not only with the jazz musicians, but with the many movie stars that he photographed, particularly Steve McQueen. Bill’s photographs have an intimacy and naturalness that make you feel you know a lot about the person by just looking at the image.

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