Art » Masters of Jazz Photography

Masters of Jazz Photography — Ray Avery

Chet Baker
Los Angeles, 1956

Photo by Ray Avery


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: Ray Avery






Ray Avery was born in Winnepeg, Canada, in 1920.  His family moved to California when he was six, to an isolated rural area outside of Los Angeles.  His first contact with jazz was on the radio in the early mornings.  Avery studied at UCLA, then entered the Air Force in World War II, photographing in India with an Argus C3 camera.  After discharge, Avery went into his father’s fur-farming business for a while.  In 1947 Avery opened the first of a series of Los Angeles record shops.  The stores became a center for serious record collectors and music professionals.  He was invited to many jazz events, and Avery brought his Nikon cameras everywhere, documenting the West Coast jazz scene from its beginnings; all the Monterey Festivals, the Stars of Jazz television series, and the busy nightclub scene.  He retired in 1986 and devoted more time to photography; his book Stars of Jazz was published in 1998.  Avery passed away in 2003.#  His work can be found online at




Kid Ory





Bobby Hackett





Sidney Bechet





Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond





Art Pepper, 1954





Shelly Manne, 1956





Gerry Mulligan





Thelonious Monk



Dizzy Gillespie, 1990






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


Read our interview with Lee Tanner

Remembering Lee Tanner