Milton Hinton, Esquire Magazine Photo Shoot, Harlem, New York City, c.1958

Milton Hinton (1910-2000)
Esquire Magazine Photo Shoot, Harlem, New York City, c. 1958
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm) – 20 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (52 x 41.9 cm)
Gift of Mona and Milton Hinton, 1992
The Mishkin Gallery

Born in 1910 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Milton Hinton was one of the most influential American jazz double bass players of the last century. He spent most of his career performing with all the major American jazz artists of his time. A dedicated photographer, he was one of the 58 jazz musicians featured in the January 1959 Esquire Magazine issue “The Golden Age of Jazz.”

This picture was taken on August 12, 1958, around 10 am, on the outdoor steps of a Harlem townhouse on 17 East 126th St. Seen here are some of the most influential jazz musicians of that era. They are greeting each other while getting ready to pose for Esquire. “A Great Day in Harlem,” the final editorial photograph by Art Kane, was featured in the January 1958 Esquire issue, and it became a milestone document of the Golden Era of American Jazz.

In this behind-the-scenes photograph, we recognize: (First row) George Wettling and Bud Freeman, (Second row) Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, and Sonny Greer, (Third row) Miff Mole, Zutty Singleton, Red Allen, and Taft Jordan, and (Top Row) Dickie Wells, Buck Clayton, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Hilton Jefferson, and Art Blakey.

In the 1994 Jean Bach documentary film “A Great Day in Harlem,” Milton Hinton explains why this shot is particularly meaningful to him. In the middle of it, there are three of the most influential drummers of his Jazz era: Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, Sonny Greer. In their smiles, I see all the camaraderie and enjoyable dialogues upon which the greatest jazz music emerged.