THE WILLIAM CLAXTON COLLECTION
william claxton bio web images jazBorn in Pasadena, California, iconic phorographer William Claxton (1927-2008) is best known for his dozens of splendid portraits of jazz figures (especially those of Chet Baker, of whom he took the first professional photos) and Hollywood stars (such as his friend Steve McQueen). Claxton’s images graced the covers of countless records, and appeared in magazines such as Life, Paris Match and Vogue. Claxton wrote 13 books, held dozens of exhibitions of his photographs around the world, and won numerous photography awards. Claxton was celebrated for his moody black-and-white portraits of leading jazzmen such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Art Pepper and Thelonious Monk. His photographs of musicians at work around the US in 1960, taken on a four-month journey accompanied by musicologist Joachim-Ernst Berendt, were collected in the book Jazzlife.
Claxton took the famous photograph of a brooding Chet Baker with his face reflected on the piano (below). His Baker portraits were collected in the book Young Chet, with a note from Claxton that photography is “jazz for the eye”. Claxton’s photographs made striking album covers for Pacific Jazz Records, such as the shot of a seaborne Baker blowing his trumpet in the wind on the sleeve of the 1956 album, Chet Baker and Crew. Shooting LP covers was, wrote Claxton, a “simple and delightful experience” – and an intimate arrangement he preferred to the wrangling of executives and stylists that would accompany CD cover shoots in later years.
This collection presents perennial jazz recordings presented in 64 LPS and CDS all of them illustrated with superb images by the great photographer.