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Hinton, Milt

Milt Hinton

Bassist

For the Record

Selected discography

Selected publications

Sources

According to the All Music Guide, jazz bassist Milt Hinton quite possibly appeared on more recordings than any other musician in history. Known as The Judge to friends, fans, and critics alike and celebrated for his rich tone and sense of rhythmic timing, Hinton remained a vital force in the jazz style for more than 70 years, appearing on over 1, 000 records, both under his own name and with others. During his prolific career, Hinton, who died on December 19, 2000, played with nearly all the great jazz leaders as well as various pop stars including Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Thelonius Monk, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Paul McCartney, and Barbra Streisand.

In addition to playing jazz and educating young musicians, Hinton spent his life doubling as a professional photographer who documented the jazz life. He captured hundreds of images of performers on the road and in the studio, during both good and bad times. Many of his photographs, taken from an archive of more than 60, 000 negatives, were exhibited throughout the world. Hinton also published two well-received books of such images: Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton and Overtime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton. Milt Hinton is a musical icon, saxophonist Jimmy Heath told Down Beats Alan Nahigian at a 1999 celebration and exhibition honoring Hintons work at Flushing Town Hall, New York. He has given us the history of jazz to contemplate and observe by documenting everything onto film, plus he has shown us the beauty of this music through his performances.

Desiring to share his passion for music with a younger generation, Hinton taught jazz courses at Hunter College and Baruch College in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1980, he established the Milton J. Hinton Scholarship Fund for aspiring bassists. His other education-based endeavors included serving as the bass chairman for the National Association of Jazz Educators, as a panel member for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a board member of the International Society of Bassists. Several colleges awarded Hinton with honorary doctorate degrees for his work in music education including William Patterson College, Skidmore College, Hamilton College, DePaul University, Trinity College, the Berklee College of Music, Fairfield University, and the Baruch College of the City University of New York. Some of his numerous other honors include a Eubie Award from the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, a Living Treasure Award from the Smithsonian Institution, an American Jazz Master Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993, and a New York State Governors Award in 1996.

Milton John Hinton was born on June 23, 1910, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was just three months old

For the Record

Born Milton John Hinton on June 23, 1910, in Vicksburg, MS; died on December 19, 2000, in Queens, NY; wife, Mona; children: Charlotte Morgan. Education: Attended Crane Junior College, 192932; Northwestern University, 1933.

Played with legendary jazz artists including Art Tatum, Erskine Tate, Zutty Singleton, Jabbo Smith, and Eddie South, 1920s-early 1930s; played with Cab Calloways band, 193651; worked as freelance studio musician, playing on more recordings than any other bassist, 1950s-70s; jazz lecturer at various universities including the Bernard M. Baruch and Hunter Colleges of the City University of New York, 1970s-80s; published two books of photography: Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton, 1988, and Overtime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton, 1991.

Awards: Eubie Award, New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1988; Living Treasure Award, Smithsonian Institution, 1989; American Jazz Master Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1993; New York State Governors Award, 1996.

when his father, a missionary from Monrovia, and mother separated. Throughout his childhood, Hinton was well aware of racism. His maternal grandmother had been a slave on a plantation owned by the brother of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War era, and in 1918, at the age of eight, Hinton witnessed a lynching first-hand. More than 60 years after the terrifying event, Hinton recalled, as quoted by Bart Barnes in the Washington Post, seeing a crowd of people, all around, men shooting, a big barrel of gasoline on the ground and a man is on fire, like a piece of bacon with a wire rope around his neck. In Vicksburg, when you lynched a [black person], you cut the tree down and painted the stump red. I walked to school past that stump every day, but I couldnt understand what was happening.

At age 11, Hinton and his mother moved to Chicago, where he began his musical education on the violin, taking private lessons in classical music. He hoped to one day play for silent films in the movie houses. In music, Hinton discovered a place where racial and class differences were nonexistent, where people could come together. Music is an auditory art, he told Down Beats Michael Bourne in 1993. We go by sound. Not who your daddy was. Not your ethnicity. B-flat is the same in Japan as it is here. We cant speak the same language but we can play together. I praise God every day of my life that God let me be involved in music. This is where I get more freedom, more respect, more dignity from the world. This is what music means to me.

In 1927, following the release of Al Jolsons The Jazz Singer, the first feature film with sound, Hinton realized that the days of a live violinist accompanying films were probably over. Thus, while attending Wendell Phillips High School and Crane Junior College, he switched from violin to the bass saxophone, followed by the tuba, cello, and eventually bass. From the late 1920s until the mid 1930s, Hinton worked with several legendary figures such as Art Tatum, Freddie Keppard, Jabbo Smith, Tiny Parham (with whom he made his recording debut in 1930), Eddie South (ironically, another violinist known for his mix of classical and jazz-oriented material), Zutty Singleton, and Fate Marable.

Hintons big break arrived in 1936 when bandleader Cab Calloway, after losing his bassist to a Hollywood studio orchestra, offered him a position on a temporary basis. Originally, Calloway planned to replace Hinton with a real bassist when his tour left Chicago to perform in New York City. However, Hinton immediately proved himself a valuable addition and remained with Calloways orchestra until 1951. Featured on the bandleaders 1939 set Pluckin the Bass, Hinton also worked with Dizzy Gillespie to help modernize Calloways style. While performing with Calloway, Hinton also made dozens of recordings with the likes of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, and Billie Holiday.

After Calloway dissolved his band in 1951, Hinton, now based in New York, performed in clubs with Joe Bushkin, then briefly played with Count Basie and Louis Armstrongs All-Stars. In 1954, with the help of comedian Jackie Gleason, an old friend Hinton met on the club circuit years earlier, the bassist landed a job as a staff musician at CBS. At the time, the industry was still heavily segregated, making Hinton one of the first African American musicians hired for session work. Over the next 15 years, Hinton appeared on countless recordings, playing jazz as well as many other types of music, like Gleasons mood music and polka bands, film soundtracks and commercials, and jam sessions led by Buck Clayton. Other artists Hinton accompanied included Mahalia Jackson, Erroll Garner, Aretha Franklin, Dinah Shore, Johnny Mathis, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, among others. The same period also saw the release of Hintons first session as a leader in 1955.

In his later years, Hinton worked with Dick Cavetts studio band, taught music, and continued to play concerts and pursue photography, a hobby he took up in the mid 1930s when a friend gave him an old camera. Hinton died at the age of 90 after an extended illness at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens, New York. He was survived by his wife, Mona, a daughter, Charlotte Morgan, and a granddaughter.

Selected discography

Milt Hinton Quartet, Bethlehem, 1955.

Basses Loaded, Victor, 1955.

The Rhythm Section, Epic, 1956.

The Trio, Chiaroscuro, 1977.

Back to Bass-ics, Progressive, 1984.

The Judges Decision, Exposure, 1984.

Old Man Time, Chiaroscuro, 1989.

The Trio: 1994, Chiaroscuro, 1994.

Laughing at Life, Columbia, 1994.

Selected publications

Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton, Temple University Press, 1988.

Overtime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton, Pomegranate Artbooks, 1991.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, June 1993.

Boston Globe, February 10, 1989.

Down Beat, December 1993; August 1995; January 1999.

Ebony, January 1992.

Jet, January 8, 2001.

Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1998; August 1, 1991; August 5, 1991; December 21, 2000.

New York Times, June 15, 2000.

People, May 8, 1995.

Rolling Stone, February 1, 2001.

USA Today, March 1998.

Washington Post, December 21, 2000.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 7, 2001).

Contemporary Authors Online, http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (June 26, 2001).

NPR Jazz Online, http://www.nprjazz.org (March 7, 2001).

Laura Hightower

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Hinton, Milt 1910–2000

Milt Hinton 19102000

Jazz musician, photographer

Switched to Bass from Tuba

Hired by Jackie Gleason

Photographed Jazz Musicians

Selected discography

Sources

Milt Hinton was a string bass player whose career spanned much of the history of jazz and pop. He once said, according to the New York Times, that he had made more records than anybody, and at the peak of his recording career he kept instruments at each of several major recording studios so that he would be ready to play at a moments notice. In the history of jazz he was noted as one of the first players to perform bass solos, now considered an integral part of the music. Hinton was also a skillful photographer who documented the lives of jazz musicians in pictures that were widely exhibited later in his life.

Hinton was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on June 23, 1910; his mothers mother had been a slave owned by a relative of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. His father was an African brought to the United States by missionaries. Hintons parents separated when he was young, and at age eight, he was quoted as saying in the Washington Post, he saw a crowd, people all around, men shooting, a big barrel of gasoline on the ground and a man is on fire, like a piece of bacon with a wire rope around his neck, Fleeing lynchings and the other horrors of life in the South, Hintons mother brought her son to Chicago.

Switched to Bass from Tuba

Studying classical music in school Hinton endured teasing from his classmates, but he also became interested in the then-young art of jazz. He played the tuba, which served the role of harmonic support in early jazz, but then he switched to the bass; he later credited his classical violin training with allowing him to develop dexterity and innovative technique on the bass. Soon he found nightclub work in Chicagos vigorous jazz scene, playing with bands led by Erskine Tate, Zutty Singleton, and others. His break in jazz came in 1936 when he filled in for an absent bassist who was set to accompany the visiting singer and bandleader Cab Calloway.

Though Calloway had planned to find another bassist when he returned to his home base of New York, Hinton remained with Calloways band for 15 years. Calloway was my musical father, Hinton was quoted as saying in the New York Times. He was so kind to me, and he gave me the opportunity to grow. Among other things, Calloway recorded pieces that brought Hinton and his bass to the fore; the 1939 recording Pluckin the Bass was an example. Hinton also recorded with a whole roster of leading jazz musicians of

At a Glance

Born Milton Hinton on June 23, 1910, in Vicksburg, MS; died in New York, December 19, 2000; raised in Chicago from age nine; married, wifes name Mona; one daughter, Charlotte; one granddaughter. Education: Studied classical violin and tuba at Wendell Phillips High School, Chicago; self-taught on string bass; attended Crane Junior College and Northwestern University.

Career: Jazz and pop bassist. Performed with numerous Chicago jazz bands, late 1920s and 1930s; made recording debut with Tiny Parham band, 1930; given camera as gift and began to document jazz scene, 1935; member, Cab Calloway Orchestra, 1936-51; continued to perform jazz; constant pop recording activity as sideman, including on Jackie Gleason Music for Lovers Only LP, 1950s and 1960s; released first solo LPs, Milt Hinton and Basses Loaded, 1955; established Milton J. Hinton Scholarship Fund, 1980; taught at Hunter College and Baruch College, New York, 1970s and 1980s; two books of photographs published, Bass Line, 1988, and OverTime, 1991; photos exhibited at major museums, early 1990s.

Awards: Received eight honorary doctorates; received Living Treasure award from Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

the time, including Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and the pain-seared vocalist Billie Holiday. In the early 1940s he participated in some of the experimental sessions in which the pathbreaking bebop style was forged.

Hired by Jackie Gleason

The big bands declined in popularity after World War II, and when Calloway finally disbanded his group in 1951 Hinton found himself out of a job. Vocal-based pop recordings were in the musical ascendancy, but Hinton faced pervasive segregation in the recording world, with top major-label studio jobs going exclusively to white musicians. That changed when comedian Jackie Gleason, who had known Hinton for years, demanded that Hinton be hired to play bass on his hugely successful Music for Lovers Only LP. When I got there all the white musicians recognized me, and it was never a problem with them. Hinton reminisced in the New York Times. It was the powers that be who were scared to send a black person on TV into a living room down South.

After that, Hinton acquired a reputation for professionalism and versatility; he worked at a feverish pace through the 1960s and 1970s, appearing on recordings ranging from television commercial jingles to those by such artists as Mahalia Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Dinah Shore, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Mathis, and a young Aretha Franklin in the pre-soul stage of her career. Accounts differ as to how Hinton acquired his lasting nickname of The Judge, but one theory holds that it came about because he insisted on absolute punctuality from the musicians with whom he worked.

Hinton also enjoyed a successful television career as part of the resident bands on several talk shows, including that of Dick Cavett in the 1970s. He remained indefatigably active even as the pop and jazz styles with which he was identified gave way to rock and soul; he toured Europe several times, including one stint with the band that backed pop crooner Bing Crosby on his final overseas tour, and in the 1980s he became involved with jazz education. Hinton taught at New Yorks Hunter College and in 1980 established his own scholarship fund for young bassists. Ive always believed you dont truly know something yourself until you can take it from your mind and put it in someone elses, he was quoted as saying in the New York Times.

Photographed Jazz Musicians

After all these varied accomplishments came one more burst of fame that may have put Hintons name before a wider public than any that had ever become familiar with him before. In 1935 Hinton received a $25 camera as a gift, and from then on he began, alongside his busy musical career, to document the lives of jazz musicians on film. Bass Line and OverTime, collections of Hintons photographs published in 1988 and 1991, respectively, were culled from over 35,000 pictures he had taken.

Hintons photographs constituted a vivid history of jazz in American culture. A 1940 shot of Calloways impeccably dressed band standing under a colored entrance sign in the segregated South caught both the indignities suffered by touring jazz musicians and the spirit of triumph over racial divisions that jazz offered. Hinton made portraits of Calloway, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, and a host of other musicians.

Hinton photographed Billie Holiday on several occasions, the most famous being her final recording session in 1958. Hintons photographs show Holidays dismay at the deterioration of her voice due to years of substance abuse. She is listening to a playback, Hinton recounted in Life. She hears a bad note, and that put tears in her eyes because she was such a professional.

Hintons photographs were also seen in the 1994 documentary film A Great Day in Harlem. In 1995 he released Laughing at Life, the last of several solo albums he recorded over the years. In the last decades of his life, Hinton was widely venerated with honorary degrees and national cultural awards. He died in the New York borough of Queens, where he had lived for many years, on December 19, 2000.

Selected discography

Milt Hinton, Bethlehem, 1955.

Basses Loaded, Victor, 1955.

Milt Hinton Quartet, Bethlehem, 1955.

The Rhythm Section, Epic, 1956.

The Trio, Chiaroscuro, 1977.

Back to Bass-ics, Progressive, 1984.

The Judges Decision, Exposure, 1984.

Old Man Time, Chiaroscuro, 1989.

The Trio: 1994, Chiaroscuro, 1994.

Laughing at Life, Columbia, 1995.

Sideman on numerous 78 rpm and LP jazz and pop recordings, including Jackie Gleason, Music for Lovers Only.

Sources

Books

Kernfeld, Barry, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Macmillan, 1988.

Periodicals

Life, November 1988, p. 14.

New York Times, December 21, 2000, p. B12.

Washington Post, December 21, 2000, p. B7.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com.

James M. Manheim

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"Hinton, Milt 1910–2000." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hinton, Milt 1910–2000." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hinton-milt-1910-2000

"Hinton, Milt 1910–2000." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hinton-milt-1910-2000