Long-time readers of JazzWax are familiar with Paul Slaughter's images (see "PhotoStory" in the right-hand column). Like the other generous photographers on the list, Paul has graciously provided JazzWax with images he took of jazz legends over the years and shared his stories about them. Now Paul has published a new book, Paul Slaughter: Jazz Photographs 1969-2010. The images capture the musicians on and off stage and show enormous sensitivity and love on Paul's part. [Photo of Dizzy Gillespie and Paul Slaughter in California in 1975 by Paul Slaughter]
Paul's book cover features a terrific color image of Sonny Rollins deep in thought while warming up before a Santa Fe concert in 2007. All of Paul's images in the book have this element of proximity and tenderness. Paul also provides text on meeting his favorite artists.
Paul grew up in Louisville, KY, in the 1940s, where he had an opportunity to hear many of the big bands that passed through town. After a move to Indianapolis in the 1950s, his uncle and professional drummer Charles Mastropaolo brought Paul in close contact with jazz and jazz recordings, especially when musicians like pianist John Bunch and bassist Leroy Vinnegar dropped by the house.
In the late 1960s, Paul moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and had his own jazz radio show. He also began photographing jazz musicians in Hollywood, and it wasn't long before he was seeking and winning photo assignments for jazz magazines and other clients. [Pictured: Sarah Vaughan at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1971]
In the years that followed, Paul's talent for photography flourished, and he has traveled to more than 75 countries, taking photographs for film, television and the theater as well as the Olympics. But by Paul's own admission, jazz is where his heart rests, and you can see this in the images for his new book. [Pictured: Gerry Mulligan at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1971]
Interestingly, Paul decided to publish the book himself, using Blurb.com, which makes the process relatively easy and results in a bookstore-quality hardback. I know other photographers who have used this site to publish their books with terrific results. Clearly, the future of publishing photography books—which is hugely expensive now for mainstream publishers—rests with sites like Blurb.com. [Pictured: Harry Carney in West Hollywood in 1973]
What I love about Paul's work is that he always captures the introspection, intellect and whimsy of jazz musicians. He waits and watches and squeezes the button just as these stage folk turn and reveal a split-second private moment. Through Paul's images, we learn something new about the musicians that we didn't know before—how they feel, what they think of themselves or how much they love performing. [Pictured: Paul Slaughter]
Paul's lens is honest, and over the years musicians from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie have appreciated the work he has done documenting their feelings and finest moments.
You can preview images from Paul Slaughter: Jazz Photographs 1969-2010 as well purchase the book here.
All photos by Paul Slaughter. ©Paul Slaughter—all rights reserved. All photos used here with the artist's permission.