THE FRANCIS WOLFF COLLECTION
One of the most renowned jazz photographers of all time, Francis Wolff (1907-1971) was also a record company executive and producer, whose skills were essential to the success of the Blue Note record label. Born Jakob Franz Wolff in Berlin, Germany, he soon became a jazz enthusiast, despite the government ban placed on this type of music after 1933. A Jew, in 1939 he left Berlin, where he had worked as a commercial photographer, and established himself in New York. He began working there with his childhood friend Alfred Lion, who had co-founded Blue Note Records with Max Margulis. The latter soon dropped out of any involvement in the company, and Wolff joined Lion in running the label. Wolff took thousands of photographs during the label’s recording sessions and rehearsals. His highly personal visual concept would be forever associated with both Blue Note and jazz as a whole.
This new Jazz Images collection presents some of the best jazz albums ever in 56 LPs and 18 2CD Sets with Wolff’s wonderful and, in most cases, rarely seen pictures. Most of the photographs featured in this collection have never appeared before on any album.
THE WILLIAM CLAXTON COLLECTION
Born in Pasadena, California, iconic phorographer William Claxton (1927-2008) is best known for his dozens of splendid portraits of jazz figures (especially those of Chet Baker, of whom he took the first professional photos) and Hollywood stars (such as his friend Steve McQueen). Claxton’s images graced the covers of countless records, and appeared in magazines such as Life, Paris Match and Vogue. Claxton wrote 13 books, held dozens of exhibitions of his photographs around the world, and won numerous photography awards. Claxton was celebrated for his moody black-and-white portraits of leading jazzmen such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Art Pepper and Thelonious Monk. His photographs of musicians at work around the US in 1960, taken on a four-month journey accompanied by musicologist Joachim-Ernst Berendt, were collected in the book Jazzlife.
Claxton took the famous photograph of a brooding Chet Baker with his face reflected on the piano (below). His Baker portraits were collected in the book Young Chet, with a note from Claxton that photography is “jazz for the eye”. Claxton’s photographs made striking album covers for Pacific Jazz Records, such as the shot of a seaborne Baker blowing his trumpet in the wind on the sleeve of the 1956 album, Chet Baker and Crew. Shooting LP covers was, wrote Claxton, a “simple and delightful experience” – and an intimate arrangement he preferred to the wrangling of executives and stylists that would accompany CD cover shoots in later years.
This collection presents perennial jazz recordings presented in 64 LPS and CDS all of them illustrated with superb images by the great photographer.
THE JEAN-PIERRE LELOIR COLLECTION
French photographer Jean-Pierre Leloir (1931-2010) captured some of the most iconic images of jazz life in France during the 1950s and 1960s. Leloir was passionate about music from his early teens and started taking pictures as a 20-year-old. For publications like Jazz Magazine, L’Express and Le Nouvel Observateur, he photographed many of the jazz musicians who visited Paris or made the French capital their home in the 1950s and ‘60s, including Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Sydney Bechet, Art Blakey, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus and Lester Young.
“The day Paris was liberated”, wrote Yann Plougastel in Le Monde soon after Leloir’s death, “a GI gave him a photo camera and his life changed forever. He would soon discover jazz at 18 at the Carnot high school, listening to Sidney Bechet, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. In 1949, after a festival that reunited Charlie Parker and Miles Davis at Salle Pleyel, he decided to quit his studies and devote himself exclusively to photography. In May of 1951 he published his first image in the Jazz Hot magazine. It was a portrait of pianist Jef Gilson. It was the very first of hundreds to come…”
To pay homage to Leloir’s work, Jazz Images has selected the most important classic jazz albums to match with his visual genius. The result is this groundbreaking collection consisting of 60 LPs and 46 CDs, beautifully presented all in fold open editions, showcasing the photographer’s work as the common denominator.
All photographs have been carefully selected from Leloir’s immense catalogue. Many had never been published before in any format. All photos demonstrate Leloir’s amazing ability to immortalize performers and to capture candid moments at the airport, in the dressing rooms and at the corridors of the most legendary Paris jazz and concert venues. “I loved the people I photographed, so I made myself as available, yet as discreet as possible,” he said. “I never wanted to be a paparazzi. I wanted them to forget my presence so I could catch those little unexpected moments.”