Alongside his photographs, Gottlieb shares observations gathered from his time spent in close proximity to some of Jazz's greatest musicians.

All photographs © William P. Gottlieb


Ella Fitzgerald and John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie

circa 1947

Ella is the perennial Queen of Jazz. This picture was taken in 1947, between her teenage success with Chick Webb at the Savoy and her stardom with the Jazz at the Philharmonic. Here, Ella's vocalizing has entranced bandleader Dizzy Gillespie, to the obvious dismay of his bassist, Ray Brown, later to become Ella's husband.

Billie "Lady Day" Holiday

circa 1948

The haunting, anguished voice of Lady Day is one of the glories of music. I was fortunate to hear her at her peak, when Billie was making those wonderful small-band recordings with Teddy Wilson and under her own name, in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

circa 1946

It's difficult to think jazz without thinking Armstrong. Satchmo's electrifying technique and emotional intensity overwhelmed the jazz world ever since 1922, when young Louis left New Orleans to join King Oliver in Chicago.

Frank Sinatra

circa 1947

Sinatra was a band singer who developed into the number one male vocalist in America, thanks to his unerring taste and immaculate phrasing. Sinatra has always been an excellent jazz singer, although it took many jazz fans years to recognize that fact.

Charlie "Bird" Parker and Miles Davis

circa 1947

When Charlie Parker, the trendsetter of the late 1940s, could no longer have Dizzy Gillespie as a partner, he got young Miles. Davis became the awesome trendsetter for the following decades.