Keeping Time: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton
Film by David G. Berger and Holly Maxson Airs Nationally on Independent Lens, The Emmy Award winning series on PBS Hosted by Susan Sarandon Tuesday, April 12, 2005 at 10 P.M (check local listings)
“The blues are the consummate statement of optimism. Always! Because, no matter how bad it is, the way the man or woman is singing, there's always another tomorrow. And I think Milt captured that better than anybody. You don't get the sense that it we
(San Francisco) — KEEPING TIME: The Life Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton is a loving portrait of the legendary jazz bassist Milt Hinton, a remarkably creative and generous man who not only made beautiful music but took some of the most unforgettable photographs of American life in the 20th century. He took over 60,000 images that provide an insider's look at the world of American music, from Cab Calloway to Billie Holiday to Aretha Franklin. In doing so, he created a body of work that tells us about the world of jazz and also about the evolution of America, from the Jim Crow South of the 1930s to his death in 2000. Told through interviews with Hinton as well as Amiri Baraka, Nat Hentoff, Gregory Hines, Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Doc Cheatham, Joe Williams, George Wein and others, KEEPING TIME was produced by David G. Berger and Holly Maxson and directed by Berger, Maxson and Kate Hirson, who also edited the film, and is narrated by Emmy Award winner Jeffrey Wright. KEEPING TIME: The Life Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton will air nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Susan Sarandon, on April 12, 2005 (check local listings) as part of Independent Lens' April Music Month, which will also include the broadcast premieres of A LION'S TRAIL and END OF THE CENTURY: The Ramones.
Milt Hinton performed with every major jazz artist over the span of seven-decade career. He photographed Dizzy Gillespie when they shared Cab Calloway's bandstand in the 1930s; he was shooting pictures as well as playing at Billie Holiday's last recording session; and he captured the legendary 1958 Esquire gathering of jazz greats in Harlem. A grandchild of former slaves, Hinton's life brought him into contact with some of the most pivotal people and events of his time. A vivid storyteller, Hinton recounts the lynching he witnessed as a child in Mississippi, a summer job and his happy experience working for Al Capone as a teenager in Chicago, traveling with the dapper Calloway in the segregated South, breaking the color line in the New York recording studios with the help of his old friend Jackie Gleason, performing with such icons such as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand, and, as an elder statesman of jazz, teaching, mentoring and performing around the world.
Unlike most people, Milt Hinton realized that he was living in a pivotal time in American history, a time of evolving civil rights as well as evolving musical styles. From his vantage point on stages across the country, on Pullman cars and tour buses and recording studios, Hinton's photographs provide a window into the itinerant world of the musician–the joy of performing, and both the solitude and camaraderie felt by the band members of the era. KEEPING TIME intimately embraces the rich life of a remarkable musician who recognized and recorded history as he was living it, and captures his extraordinary spirit and solemn commitment to pass on his knowledge and experience to future generations.
The program's interactive companion website at www.pbs.org/keepingtime features detailed information about the film, including an interview with the filmmakers, cast and crew bios, as well as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.
ON AIR PARTICIPANTS, in Alphabetical Order
Amiri Baraka – author, educator and cultural critic Ray Brown – (Deceased) legendary jazz bassist, composer and bandleader Johnny Carson – (Deceased) Tonight Show host who had Milt Hinton on as a guest several times. Ron Carter – innovative jazz bassist, composer and bandleader. John Clayton – West Coast jazz bassist, composer and bandleader. Doc Cheatham – (Deceased) legendary jazz trumpeter Bob Cranshaw – jazz bassist Bill Crow – jazz bassist and author Richard Davis – jazz bassist Jon Faddis – jazz trumpeter, bandleader and educator Eddie Gomez - noted jazz bassist Nat Hentoff – cultural critic, author and columnist Gregory Hines – (Deceased) actor and dancer Mona Hinton – Milt Hinton's wife of 60 years Dick Hyman – pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer Quincy Jones – composer, arranger and producer Jay Leonhart – jazz bassist and lyricist who befriended Milt Hinton in the 1960s Christian McBride – jazz bassist and composer Branford Marsalis – saxophonist, bandleader and composer Dan Morgenstern – director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University Rufus Reid – jazz bassist and composer Halima Taha – art curator and consultant who specializes in African American art Brian Torff – jazz bassist and educator who teaches at Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut George Wein – festival and concert producer Joe Wilder – noted jazz trumpet player Joe Williams – (Deceased) legendary jazz vocalist Richard B. Woodward – author and documentary filmmaker Jeffrey Wright – (Narrator) actor whose work includes the starring role in the film Basquiat and a leading role in both the Broadway and television versions of Angels in America (for which he won both the Tony and the Emmy Award).
ABOUT THE MUSIC IN THE FILM
Of the 40 selections on the soundtrack of KEEPING TIME: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton, Hinton is heard playing bass on 32 of them. These range from his recordings with Tiny Parham and Eddie South (early 1930s) to Cab Calloway (1936-1951), to Red Allen, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington (1950s), to Hugo Winterhalter and various studio bands (1960s and 1970s). Also represented are Hinton's recordings as a leader and his work in the 1980s and 1990s with various all-star groups.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
David G. Berger and Holly Maxson (Producers/Directors) KEEPING TIME is the first film for David G. Berger and Holly Maxson. Both had long, intimate relationships with Milt Hinton, whose profound impact on their lives inspired them to make this documentary. Berger's four-decade relationship with Hinton began in 1955 when he was a 14-year-old aspiring bass player who approached Hinton for lessons. Four years later, Berger traded the study of the bass for a major in sociology at the University of Wisconsin. But during every school break, he was back at the Hintons's, recording the stories he heard from Hilton and his colleagues. At the same time, Berger began working with Hilton's photographs, and whenever possible, he recorded Hilton's recollections about taking particular images. After completing his doctorate in sociology, Berger became a professor at Philadelphia's Temple University in 1968, a position he held for 30 years. In the mid 1970s, he and Milt began a 14-year collaboration culminating in the publication of two books, Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton, (Temple University Press) and OverTime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton (Pomegranate ArtBooks).
Twenty-five years ago, Berger hired Holly Maxson to assemble the photographs for Bass Line. Maxson had a degree in photography and printmaking from the Tyler School of Art and, at the time was studying paper conservation while working at the Philadelphia Historical Society. Maxson understood the historical significance of Hinton's photographs but was concerned by how badly they were catalogued and stored. She spent the next 15 years preserving and cataloguing the photographs, which now number more than 60,000. Her work was instrumental in the creation of KEEPING TIME, which relies on Hinton's photographs of his world to tell his unique story.
Because Berger and Maxson were new to filmmaking, they hired veteran film editor Kate Hirson to work on the project. Although Hirson had never met Milt Hinton, she got to know him by living with countless video and audio interviews, archival footage, his photographs and the stories Berger and Maxson recounted.
Kate Hirson (Director and Editor)
KEEPING TIME marks Kate Hirson's debut as a director. As a veteran film editor she began her career with the pioneers of cinema verité, David and Albert Maysles, working on everything from their film on the Beatles (The Beatles In The USA) to their film on the artist Christo (Running Fence). She has always been particularly interested in documentaries about artists - whether they be painters (14 AMERICANS, DIRECTIONS OF THE 1970'S), dancers (Dancing!) classical musicians (Playing For Real), or film directors like Arthur Freed (Musicals, Great Musicals), Busby Berkeley: going Through The Roof and Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows. She recently received an Emmy Award in editing for Judy Garland – All By Myself.
About Milt “Judge” Hinton, 1910 - 2000 Milt Hinton was regarded as the dean of jazz bass players. He was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1910 and moved to Chicago at the age of 11. At 13 he began studying violin, but while attending high school he played bass horn, tuba, cello, and eventually bass violin.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Hinton worked as a freelance musician in Chicago, performing with all the legendary jazz artists of those days. In l936, he joined Cab Calloway and played with the renowned band for the next fifteen years.
After leaving Calloway in the early 1950s, Hinton began working as a studio freelancer in New York City. For two decades he played on thousands of jazz and popular records, on hundreds of jingles and film soundtracks, and on dozens of radio and television programs. Hinton has accompanied virtually every jazz and popular artist from Ellington, Basie, Goodman, Mingus, and Coltrane, to Streisand, Midler, Manilow, and McCartney.
In addition to his career in music, Hinton gained recognition as a photographer. He began snapping pictures of his friends in the 1930s and over six decades his collection grew to more than 60,000 images. His extraordinary photographs have been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world. In 1988, Bass Line: The Stories and Photographs of Milt Hinton, was published by Temple University Press and was selected Book of the Year by JazzTimes. A second book, OverTime: The Jazz Photographs of Milt Hinton, was published by Pomegranate Art Books in 1991.
Hinton received eight honorary doctorates as well as countless prestigious national and international awards. He and Mona Hinton were married for 57 years. Their lifelong involvement in their Queens, New York community, their strong commitment to family and their contribution to music and photography made them role models and an inspiration to younger generations.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on PBS. Hosted by Susan Sarandon, the acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin to write in The New Yorker: “Watching Independent Lens... is like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further infor-mation about the series is available at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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