Milt Hinton | Jazz Bass in Your Head

Written by on November 2, 2022

they will always be alive”…

Its 1958.

Milt Hinton, jazz bassist, is standing on the steps of a brownstone in Harlem looking into the lens of a Hasselblad 300C held by the Esquire Magazine art director, Art Kane.

Its Art Kane’s first photo shoot. Milt Hinton and Art Kane are not alone on 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

In the viewfinder, standing on both sides of Milt is Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie,

and…..a total slew of 57 jazz innovators. One photograph. Now so famous, I can’t get the rights to post it directly…yet…😉

(Said photograph is shown in the below video, so when you have Jazz History tea time this week….do enjoy this 50 minute flick.)

Thirty years later, in the mid 90’s, a brilliant female radio producer, Jean Bach, captured the behind the scenes of this shoot at 10 am when 57 innovative jazz musicians stood in one photo together.

She crafted well in that documentary what life was like in the Harlem Jazz scene in 1958. A Great Day in Harlem”

Endearing clips resurrect memories about “that day” the photo was taken.

Milt Hinton is shown a few times in this 50 minute doc, “A Great Day in Harlem”. Milt always resonates in interviews like a bass itself.   In the documentary, Milt Hinton rasps,

I don’t know why they picked this particular street or this brownstone, but that was the case….I was standing on the street right across from Coleman Hawkins”…[Art Kane] wanted to get us in this kind of a picture…he would say, ‘gentlemen, would you please get up there’ and half of these guys hadn’t seen one another for ages, all the piano players were over here, shaking hands and all the drummers were over there, and all the mix all these guys, all laughing and talkin, it was just sheer happiness…

Just like his photographs, his distinctively classy, warm and powerful innovative style of playing bass gives permanent due homage to the beauty of improvisation.


I promised to share the meaning of Milt’s nickname, “The Judge”. This is a nickname of his because he “sentences folks to 30 days of listening to good music.”

I start with Milt on this show, because, just like him, I care that folks appreciate this genre…and I hope the bass forward selections I make on my show will help provide a bridge for those on the fence.

This warm-hearted icon passed away almost 22 years ago, but, like all these musicians in Art Kane’s photograph,”…will always be alive.”


Come get some jazz bass in your heads, folks…. Sunday at 3.


no. #1:

Past Episode on Oct 30:

Milt Hinton / Ray Brown.

(Ray deserves a complete blog post of his own…)


no. #2:

UP NEXT on Nov 6:

Charles Mingus


Sunday at 3 PST. // KPSU


1 “they will always be alive”…Art Farmer, quoted in Jean Bach’s Film.

2 Jean Bach’s Film: “A Great Day in Harlem”.1994





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