On September 18, 1970, Paul Slaughter was at the Monterey Jazz Festival photographing the performers for Transworld Features when he captured the image you see here (click to enlarge). I love Paul's photo of Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. In their expressions, you see all of the joy, confidence and playfulness of jazz and jazz-entertainment history. But rather than get ahead of the story, let me have Paul fill you in:
"I was just below the stage level when Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington looked down and recognized me. A short time earlier Duke and his orchestra had performed his world premiere of Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. Dizzy was the festival's 'roving ambassador,' often walking onstage at will to play with musicians.
"But since bassist Leroy Vinnegar was on stage in the background, Dizzy and Duke must have 'roved' on stage together. Leroy played with pianist Hampton Hawes. As you can see from this photo, Dizzy and Duke had great camaraderie.
"I first met Duke in 1969 at a Beverly Hills Hotel when I interviewed him for my radio show on KBCA-FM, then an all-night jazz station in Los Angeles. When I arrived at the hotel, there were a half dozen people in the room. Then Duke entered, looking dapper in a red silk Chinese robe and black velvet slippers. He greeted me warmly and graciously gave me a half-hour interview.
"The next spring I received a belated Christmas card from him with lyrics from his composition, God Almighty. I cherish the card, which is framed and hanging in my office.
"As a young man growing up in Indianapolis, I met bassist Leroy Vinnegar and a lot of local musicians through an uncle, Charlie Mastropaolo, an accomplished drummer. Years later I would photograph Leroy numerous times at clubs and concerts in California.
"Dizzy and I had become friendly in 1970. I met him at the home of Arthur and Joyce Dahl, in Pebble Beach, CA. The Dahls were great supporters of the arts. Soon Dizzy and I discovered we were both members of the Baha’i Faith, and our friendship grew over the years.
"I still can't believe the lineup for the 1970 festival: In addition to Dizzy and Duke, performers included the Modern Jazz Quartet, Joe Williams, the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, the Bill Evans Trio, the Woody Herman and Buddy Rich orchestras, Tim Weisberg Quintet, Gabor Szabo, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, and the Hampton Hawes Trio. It was an absolute field day for a photographer." —Paul Slaughter
Photo at top by Paul Slaughter. ©Paul Slaughter/all rights reserved. Photo used here with the artist's permission.
JazzWax note: Prints of Paul's jazz photography are available at his site here.
For additional posts in this series, featuring jazz photographers reflecting on their images, scroll to "PhotoStory" in the right-hand column and click on the links.