Watch full Exhibition

Chicago’s Original Jazz Joints

Chicago in the 1950s was an exciting showcase for jazz. The wave of musical talent that swept through the Windy City poured out of clubs, ballrooms, hotel lounges and restaurants.

American photographer, Ted Williams haunted these hotbeds of jazz during their heyday and captured all the big names at work and at play.

Share this exhibition

Gallery quality

Limited edition fine art prints

Made Easy

Accessible, affordable &
simple to frame

Global Delivery

Carefully wrapped & tracked

Watch Short Stories

Buy Limited Edition Prints

The Duke goes DowntownLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Quincy Hangs out with the CatsLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Davis and Coltrane Trade Blue Note RiffsLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Aretha Plays the Playboy ClubLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Sarah Vaughan Graces the Blue NoteLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Bird Blows with Dizzy at the PershingLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Thelonious Monk on the KeysLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Louis Armstrong Improvises at the Blue NoteLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Cannonball and CompanyLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Dizzy Takes a Chess BreakLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Art Blakey Swings at the SutherlandLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Ray’s Lakeside SpectacularLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Count Basie in the Trianon BallroomLimited edition of only 300From £100Options
Buddy Rich and the Panther RoomLimited edition of only 300From £100Options

About the exhibition

Chicago in the 1950s was an exciting showcase for jazz. All kinds of jazz – from the swinging grandeur of Duke Ellington to the soaring vocals of Sarah Vaughan and the ground-breaking experimentation of Miles Davis.

The wave of musical talent that swept through the Windy City was simply breathtaking, and the music poured out of clubs, ballrooms, hotel lounges and restaurants. The joints were truly jumping. These smoky dives were almost as legendary as the players – the Blue Note, the Sutherland Lounge, the Trianon Ballroom and many more.

Musicians would form strong emotional attachments to some of these great jazz clubs. When the bandleader Count Basie returned to the city in 1960 and discovered the legendary Blue Note had closed its doors permanently, he said it felt like a death in the family.

The photographer Ted Williams haunted all these hotbeds of jazz during their heyday, from the late Forties to the early Sixties, and captured all the big names at work and at play. These photographs are priceless documents of that time, and they’re also stunning works of art, cool black-and-white icons with their own everlasting glamour and fascinating details.

And now you have the chance to own these photographs for the first time.

About Ted Williams

Most of Ted Williams’ archive, comprising both original negatives and photographs has never been published, printed, or seen before – until now. His jazz photography has been widely celebrated for the way in which it takes viewers on a heartfelt journey into both the on- and off-stage lives of touring, hardworking, and often legendary, jazz musicians.

Williams’ photographs capture the focus, the energy and the delight of jazz artists, and he photographed virtually every major name in jazz and blues: Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.

Williams’ work emanated an intimacy and spontaneity towards his subjects and it’s in that dynamic where the honesty and truth of his photos is to be found. William’ longer-term ambition had been that the general public would get to see his images in exhibition settings. In this way, Ted believed that the photographs would offer some illumination on mid twentieth century African-American culture.

Ted died in 2009, but he remains a figurehead for African-American photographers and in the history of American photography. He has left behind a dazzling photographic odyssey through the world of jazz.

Taken from a piece written by James Clarke