Masters of Jazz Photography — Charles Peterson

June 27th, 2014

peterson-2
A jam featuring Rosetta Tharpe, Duke Ellington, Rex Stewart, Cab Calloway, (unidentified guest), and Ivie Anderson

New York, 1939 

by Charles Peterson

_____

The great improvisational American jazz musicians of the mid-20th century inspired a generation of photographers to develop a looser, moodier style of visual expression. That evocative approach is on striking display in The Jazz Image: Masters of Jazz Photography. Covering six decades of performers — from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to John Coltrane and Miles Davis — this unique collection is as much a comprehensive catalogue of jazz greats as it is a salute to the photographers who captured them.

Lee Tanner was a leading authority on jazz photography. He selected works — by such noted jazz photographers as Herman Leonard, Bob Willoughby, Milt Hinton, and Bill Claxton —that are iconic, candid, explosive, and intimate. They provide a simultaneous look at jazz, photography, and America from 1935 into the 1990s.#

_____

In honor of the late Mr. Tanner, Jerry Jazz Musician presents a number of editions of “Master of Jazz Photography,” featuring a work by one of the photographers featured in The Jazz Image.

This edition: Charles Peterson

_______________

peterson-3

 


Photographer Charles Peterson enjoying lunch — and a joint — with Zutty Singleton and Louis Armstrong (pinching a roach) 

February 1942
 

*

     Charles Peterson was born at the turn of the century to Swedish immigrants in northern Minnesota.  In high school he bought a banjo, and during his college years he played in local dance halls and resort hotels.  In 1926 he headed for New York, where he played regularly at Brooklyn’s Rosemont Ballroom with people such as trumpeter Wingy Manone.  In 1928 he joined the Rudy Vallee Orchestra for four years.  He quit the road and attended New York’s Clarence White School to study photography.  He followed a typical career in the 1930s, including ad agency work and entertainment coverage for various magazines.  Peterson took rooms above the Onyx club on 52nd Street and made nightly forays into all the clubs.  He was perhaps the first dedicated photographer of the New York jazz scene in the mid-1930s.  By 1939 he had photographed the classic Commodore and Decca recording sessions and had several spreads in Life magazine.  After a tour in the Coast Guard during World War II, Peterson changed course again, becoming an industrial photographer and writer in Pennsylvania.  On occasion, he would return to New York to photograph the music scene.  Peterson died in 1976.  His son, Don, compiled his work in the book Swing Era New York.


peterson-9
Willie “The Lion” Smith and Fats Waller
New York, 1937

_____

peterson-6
 The Commodore Records “Strange Fruit” recording session

  Billie Holiday and guitarist Jimmy McLain
  April, 1939

_____

peterson-10
Pee Wee Russell
1940

_____

peterson-11
Lucky Millinder, Rosetta Tharpe, manager Moe Gale

Decca Records recording session
1941

_____

peterson-7
Sidney Bechet and Hot Lips Page

Jimmy Ryan’s
New York, 1942

_____

peterson-8
Eddie Condon, Lou McGarity, Gene Krupa and Wild Bill Davison

Condon’s
New York, 1945

_____

peterson-4

Tal Farlow, Charles Mingus and Red Norvo

The Embers
New York, 1951

______________________________________________________________________

About the Author

Lee Tanner photographed jazz musicians for nearly half a century. His photographs have appeared in Down Beat, Jazz Times, American Photo, and Popular Photography, on the covers of many record albums, and in several books.

*

# Text from the publisher

Share this:

One comments on “Masters of Jazz Photography — Charles Peterson”

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

Poetry

In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #128

Although he was famous for modernizing the sound of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was his biggest hit while working for Dorsey (pictured) -- this arranger will forever be best-known for his work with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive