Born into a family of photographers, the teenage Chuck Koton began carrying his camera wherever he went. He even set up a darkroom in his parents’ Bronx apartment. Around the same time Koton began his lifelong love affair with jazz. One night he came across his older brother’s copy of Miles Davis’ Someday My Prince Will Come. His life would never be the same. During his junior year in high school, Koton and a couple of friends began taking the “A” train downtown to Greenwich Village where they would spend nights at the Village Vanguard and other jazz clubs mesmerized by the likes of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra. It felt only natural that Koton bring his camera.
Fifteen years ago, Koton resolved to put his energy and resources into a lifetime project of documenting these brilliant, dedicated, and too often underappreciated artists. Koton’s approach to capturing jazz in an image is to convey through light, shadow, and motion what the music and the musicians have always conveyed to him: dignity and the spectrum of human emotion.
Chuck Koton: Shakin’ It
“Photography is jazz for the eye. ”
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