Benny Goodman

circa 1947

The Swing Era was said to have begun with the Goodman orchestra's smash success at the Palladium Ballroom in Los Angles. Goodman made the clarinet a popular instrument, hired dozens of superb but unknown musicians, gaining them the public attention th ey deserved, popularized "chamber jazz" by featuring his trio, and used his prestige to break down racial taboos by employing a number of African-American musicians.

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington

circa 1946

I was awed by everything about Duke: his music, his energy, his hipness, his urbanity, even his physical appearance. When I interviewed him in his dressing room, I first became aware that, like Satchmo, Duke had acquired an over-ample waistline. Yet, on stage moments later, he again had taken on the dapper look that was an Ellington trademark.

The shattering music of Stan Kenton (with Buddy Childers on the left)

circa 1948

Stan was the most controversial of the modern jazzmen. Although his orchestra was voted the best swing band in six Down Beat polls from 1947 to 1954, many thought it devoid of swing. Stan's screaming horns foretold of the high decibels of the rock ag e. I photographed Kenton and trumpeter Buddy Childers through a fractured mirror to suggest the band's shattering effect.

Coleman "Bean" Hawkins and Miles Davis

circa 1948

By the age of 21, Miles was already the most sought-after modern trumpet. When longtime great Coleman Hawkins wanted to explore the new sounds, he hired Miles Davis.

Charlie "Bird" Parker and Tommy Potter

circa 1947

Bird was wisely acknowledged as the supreme jazz genius of his time. He was also the most self-destructive. Returning to 52nd Street after a breakdown in California, he generally lead a quintet with Tommy Potter on bass, and a series of outstanding t rumpets. Parker would effortlessly blow chorus after chorus of wondrous improvisation, and turn familiar tunes into amazing new melodies.