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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jazz photographs show opens Friday evening in Westport

Westport Arts Center
51 Riverside Ave., Westport, (203) 222-7070
The Judge: Jazz Photographs by Musician Milt Hinton
Dec. 4, 2009—Jan. 10, 2010
Opening Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6:30—8:30 p.m.

Press release

This winter, the Westport Arts Center (WAC) will celebrate the great American art form of jazz with a lively mix of visual arts, music, and film. An exhibition of photographs of famous jazz musicians taken by Milt Hinton (1910-2000) will serve as the springboard for jazz-inspired programs including a holiday concert in honor of Westport's Sally White (of Sally's Place record shop), and a documentary film screening with jazz historians, musicians, and filmmakers.

The exhibition, concert, and film-screening began with a suggestion from Brian Torff, WAC's new artistic director for jazz. Torff, a Fairfield University music professor and accomplished bass player proposed the tribute to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hinton's birth in 2010. According to Torff, "Milt Hinton was a friend and mentor to countless musicians, myself included. This photography exhibition illuminates the humanity that is jazz and the message that is spread by creative artists, including soulful experts such as Sally White. It's all a part of living, and these unique individuals exemplify that."

The Judge: Jazz Photographs by Musician Milt Hinton will feature 30 black and white photographs by Milt Hinton. The exhibition will run from Fri., Dec. 4 to Sun., Jan. 10, with a public opening on Fri., Dec. 4 from 6:30—8:30 p.m.

Hinton is considered the Dean of jazz bass players and earned the nickname, "The Judge," because of his reliability as a performer. He took more than 60,000 photos during his seven-decade long career as a musician, and his insider perspective of the jazz scene gave him full access and special insights into the personalities and talents that propelled that musical genre.

Hinton's photographs feature relaxed, candid images of music legends at work, play, and in quiet moments at the studio, backstage, and on the road. The list of figures in his photographs includes Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday.

On Thurs., Dec. 10 among Hinton's photographs, WAC will present a holiday jazz party and celebrate Sally White, loved and respected owner of Sally's Place record shop in Westport. The performance will feature drummer Adam Nussbaum, Rob Aries on keyboard, and Brian Torff on bass, along with numerous special guest artists who will drop by to jam. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. There are a limited number of tickets remaining for the Holiday Party. Tickets are $25 / $10 (college students) / $5 (18 & under) and can be purchased by calling 203-222-7070.

Richard Epstein, a WAC board member and music host on radio station 89.5 WPKN, FM, believes it's time to celebrate Sally White and her contributions to the community. "Stepping into Sally White's record store is like going into one of those magical bookstores where the owners seem to have knowledge of every book—either mainstream or offbeat. She somehow knows just what will work for you, and will reach into a box hidden behind the counter and pull out the exact recording you have been searching for. Her personal knowledge, intuition, and attention are irreplaceable, and our community is lucky to have a gem such as Sally who cares so passionately about music and the recordings that document it."

For those that are curious about Milt Hinton's life and work, WAC will screen the Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary, Keeping Time: The Life, Music, and Photographs of Milt Hinton, directed by David Berger, Kate Hirson, and Holly Maxson. The screening will be followed by a conversation between the audience, jazz historians, and film makers. The screening will be held on Sun., Jan. 10, at 4 p.m. at the Westport Arts Center. Tickets are $15/$10 (college students).

Milt Hinton's photographs and the film "Keeping Time," will be on public view courtesy of the Milt Hinton Collection, NYC.

About Milt Hinton

Hinton was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1910, and, at the age of eleven, moved to Chicago. During the late 20s and 30s, Hinton worked as a freelance musician in Chicago, joining Cab Calloway in 1936—a fifteen-year stint that included performances with Danny Barker, Dizzy Gillespie and Ben Webster. Beginning in the 1950s, he embarked on several decades of studio freelance gigs in New York City, playing with Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and more.

Hinton took more than 60,000 photos during his career as a musician. His insider perspective of the Jazz scene gave him access and insights into the personalities and talents that propelled that musical genre for seven decades. The list of figures in Hinton's photos include: Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, and Billie Holiday. His photographs have been shown in numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Denver Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.

About Sally White

Sally White and her twin sister were born in Danbury, CT, and moved to Norwalk, CT when they were 11. She graduated from Norwalk High School in 1946. Her love of music was nurtured by an early boyfriend who played the saxophone in a band known as Alan Burr and His Rhythm Makers. She and the band would travel into New York City and go to movie theatres that featured live music before the main screening. There she was introduced to musicians like Duke Ellington and Jimmy Dorsey.

In 1954 White started selling records working part-time for Melody House in Norwalk. In 15 minutes she knew that music would be part of her life forever. She worked there until she started full time at Klein's of Westport, where she managed the Music Section until its closure. In November of 1985, she opened Sally's Place at 190 Main Street in Westport -the only owner-operated record store in Westport, and one of a handful still in operation in the region. White emphasizes that making personal connections are what makes her shop thrive. She values the nature of community that existed when Main Street was about Mom and Pop businesses. "Their stories are what made America," says White.

The Westport Arts Center is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community. The Westport Arts Center is supported with funds from the Artur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation, Inc., Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Fairfield County Bank, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Gault, Inc., Independent Film Channel, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Westport Sunrise Rotary Young Voices Program, and Xerox Foundation.

For information contact the Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070 or go to the website at Gallery hours are M-F, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun. from noon to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport.

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