Black and White in Focus

For Hinton and his generation, however, jazz had other undercurrents, the most obvious one being racial segregation. A handful of Hinton's photographs are conscious documents of the color barriers he and his colleagues found in the South. Hinton poses various musicians in front of telling signs such as "Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Lunches -- For Colored Only." One memorable picture shows a group of musicians, obviously having just arrived in town, hamming it up happily at the "colored entrance" of a large building.

"I wanted to catch that for the simple reason that today my children don't know that that happened," notes Hinton. "I wanted them to see what we had to go through, where we had to eat and sleep and where we couldn't eat and sleep. So I took pictures of what it was then."

It will come as news to no one that the very people who gave this nation one of its most important musical idioms were treated as second-class citizens for decades. But Hinton's pictures bring the issue into sharp focus, even when he's captured a scene as simple as the black singer Sarah Vaughan rehearsing with the white pianist Bob James.

"I wanted also to show that the world was racist, but we was musicians," explains Hinton, "and we didn't care what color you was. We was musicians."

-- Rafer Guzman

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