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Slide Show: The Jazz Photography of William Gottlieb

Click to hear “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard and Irving Mills.

Everyone knows that jazz sounds great. It looks great, too.

Perhaps the greatest of all jazz photographers is William Paul Gottlieb. His images (which are a bit washed out in this slide show) are unmistakable.

Gottlieb, who lived from 1917 to 2006, was born in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn but grew up in New Jersey. He edited the Lehigh College newspaper and began writing a jazz column for The Washington Post during his senior year. The Post couldn’t afford a photographer, so Gottlieb did double duty.

He was drafted into the Army Air Corps during World War II and found his niche as a photo and classification officer. After discharge, Gottlieb worked as a writer and photographer for jazz and general interest magazines (including Saturday Review and Down Beat).

Gottlieb’s photo career was surprisingly short-lived considering his fame and output. He retired in 1948 and founded a filmstrip company that he sold to McGraw-Hill. He was an accomplished tennis player and children’s book writer.

Check out more of Gottlieb’s jazz photography, which is in the public domain. Most images in the slideshow link to posts about that artist. Just click on the photo.

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