By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Author Archive

SFTJF Online Exhibit: Maximum Vibration

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From 1990-2015 I served as Chairman of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation. This April the Foundation launched The Great Jazz Revival, The Charles N. Huggins Project, an online multimedia history of Traditional Jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area from the Barbary Coast to the 1980s told through historic images, recorded sound, articles, scores and film. You can watch a video overview of the project here.  Read San Francisco Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte’s exploration of the jazz heritage documented in Stanford University Library’s online exhibit in his article Homegrown Jazz Preserved.

One focus of the online historical collection is on the many first-generation jazzmen who settled during the 1950-60s in the Bay Area, where they found new audiences for their traditional approach to the jazz from their roots in New Orleans and elsewhere. Such figures as Kid Ory, Earl Hines, Bunk Johnson, Pops Foster, Darnell Howard and others enriched the San Francisco jazz scene and inspired younger players like Lu Watters and Turk Murphy to carry the torch of traditional New Orleans jazz. I was lucky to have known and photographed some of these men.

From 1958-63, the great New Orleans reedman Frank “Big Boy” Goudie was a notable figure in the San Francisco jazz revival, during which time the former tenor saxophonist played only clarinet. He had spent most of his previous career among many American expatriate jazzmen living and working in Paris. In the Bay Area he developed a distinctive personal style with a rich, husky tone and flowing lines that oozed Creole Louisiana tradition. I got to know him, played a few duets, and interviewed him.

Living in Berkeley, California at the time, not far from singer Barbara Dane’s home, I photographed Frank at a little party at her house around 1958. Frank had probably put on a tie for the occasion. He had also come, weeks before that, to my place on Sterling Road for a little jazz party, where we first played duets with some old hands of the Berkeley jazz establishment. Within a month or two he was gigging all around the Bay Area with folks like Jim Leigh and Dick Oxtot and Bob Mielke, at private events, and at sit-ins at San Francisco’s Pier 23. Goudie long had a side profession (like many New Orleans originals) — as an upholsterer. I.e. he well knew how to survive.

That he had worked in Paris with Django Reinhart was not lost on any of us. His tough inner core was belied by the genuine charm and winning personality evident in this portrait. As with New Orleans jazz, “playing for the people” proved adaptable to any time, and place.

Frank “Big Boy” Goudie, Photograph © William Carter

New Orleans bass stylist Wellman Braud (1891-1966) reached the top of his profession as a mainstay with Duke Ellington, plus many other engagements. Like a number of the classic jazzmen, Braud descended from a Creole musical family–several of whom, such as his cousin, bassist McNeil Breaux, used an alternate spelling of the French-derived last name. Like many another jazz pioneer, Wellman eventually settled in the Bay Area, accepting gigs such as with blues singer Barbara Dane. In this photo you can see that one of the strings of the bass fiddle (second from leftmost) is not aligned with the others. I’m told by bass players that this was because I was lucky to have captured the exact moment when Mr. Braud had plucked the A string of the bass, which was at that moment at its maximum vibration.

JAZZ/BLUES GREATS Bassist Wellman Braud; pianist/trumpeter/vocalist Kenny Whitson at Sugar Hill, San Francisco, 1961, photograph © William Carter

Bassist Wellman Braud; pianist/trumpeter/vocalist Kenny Whitson at Sugar Hill, San Francisco, 1961, photograph © William Carter

In 1955, as a twenty-year-old clarinetist, I toured the US and recorded at the New Orleans Jazz Festival with trombonist and bandleader Turk Murphy (see LP album cover art below). Turk’s best known band, the Turk Murphy Jazz Band, started in 1952 and performed continuously until his death in 1987. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the band was at its peak of popularity, touring annually, recording for major labels such as Columbia, and performing as often as six days a week at Earthquake McGoon’s, Turk’s jazz club which was home base for the band between 1960 and 1984. Turk, his club, and his band were fixtures of the San Francisco scene for decades. McGoon’s served as both a tourist destination and a meeting place for a local crowd of regulars who came to listen, drink and dance.

Turk Murphy New Orleans Jazz Festival LP album cover art

“A typical night at McGoon’s would find the dance floor crowded with a wide range of fans—from older couples who had danced to the Yerba Buena Jazz Band at the Dawn Club and Hambone Kelly’s, to young people learning to dance to traditional jazz for the first time.” SFTJF Online Exhibit

ClayStDancers

Dancers at Earthquake McGoon’s, 1973

“Intermissions at McGoon’s ran the gamut from solo pianists and singing banjoists to an all-star trio with Darnell Howard on clarinet/violin, Elmer Snowden on banjo, and Pops Foster on bass. One of the most beloved intermission artists was Clancy Hayes. A total professional with a sense of timing that nearly matched Turk’s, Clancy would always end his intermission act with a song from the Dawn Club/Hambone Kelly’s era as the Murphy band joined him onstage, one by one.”

Clancy

Clancy Hayes

Earthquake McGoon’s served as a pinnacle of San Francisco’s Great Jazz Revival. The music that was being played for decades became part of the city, part of the culture, part of the people. The history and the legacy of the music came alive through the people who played it and enjoyed it. And now that legacy lives on in the carefully preserved and timelessly stored relics of San Francisco’s past, all accessible indefinitely on Stanford’s  Online Exhibit.

“McGoon’s was an ideal jazz club. Turk made it into a beautiful jazz club. We had a very strong crowd, and they all became friends; everybody knew each other and they danced. There were so many great moments just watching the crowd enjoy the music.”

– Leon Oakley, Turk Murphy Jazz Band Cornetist.

 

Written by bywilliamcarter

June 19, 2019 at 12:55 am

Gone Tomorrow?

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Musings on Permanence/Impermanence

Rhyolite, Nevada 1970

In a nation often characterized by its frontier past, the zest for the Now has always contended with its opposite: the urge to constellate older, permanent values. Centuries of the wide open West brought us the enduring myth of cowboy who roamed freely across open spaces but whose assignment was often to save a threatened town. Trappers, miners and farmers kept moving on to the next big thing. Less romanticized, other farmers and their town-dwelling cousins put down roots, planting for permanence.

Today the theme lives on in other forms, such as in the struggle between development and preservation. Or between the risks of global thinking and the reassurances of old-time religion.  Universally, man struggles for immortality against his evident mortality.

My first two books – Ghost Towns of the West and Middle West Country – probed America’s frontier tensions in detail. My most recent one, Causes and Spirits, is a photographic art book of worldwide scope; yet it, too, explores the contest between “dust to dust” on the one hand, and surpassing vision on the other. Threaded through the book in varying dimensions, the underlying polarity can be summed up here in two images involving the widespread deployment of Greek classical architecture. References to a shared European ancestry and taste, such structures served as emblems of a hoped-for permanence as America unfurled its banner westward.

Northern Minnesota, 1973

Some dreams were broken. Some dreams survived.

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

Written by bywilliamcarter

November 14, 2018 at 9:55 am

Those Teens Part 8

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With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

teens8.1Yemen, c. 1965

teens8.2Gaza, c. 1993

teens8.3California, c. 1972

teens8.4Indiana, c. 1972

teens8.5Washington, c. 1962

teens8.6Illinois, c. 1973

teens8.7California, c. 1970

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

Written by bywilliamcarter

November 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm

THEN AS NOW?

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When I saw the online New York Times piece this morning (above), October 28, 2018, featuring the stunning Yemen photographs by Tyler Hicks, my aching heart made me want to do something: then the heart messaged the brain that 54 years ago I had gone, as a young photojournalist, to a little-known, impoverished war zone called Yemen. This was at the invitation of a veteran New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief named Dana Adams Schmidt. An under-publicized, savage, tribal civil war was going on. One side was sponsored by Egypt, its arms supplied by the Soviet Union; the other side was supplied by Saudi Arabia, with its plentiful supply of American arms (sound familiar?).

Although Dana and I were unable to reach the combat zone, unsubstantiated rumors were circulating that the U.S.-made fighter jets were raining down a fairly new, horrifying kind of chemical weapon called napalm on the northern Yemeni tribesmen. (Before long napalm would become well known to the American public due to its widespread use in Vietnam.) A few weeks after our New York Times-based visit, a colleague, correspondent Dick Beeston of the London Daily Telegraph, nearly got himself killed traveling to northern Yemen where he searched for, and eventually found, and carried home, a piece of shrapnel quickly identified by experts as part of an American-made napalm shell.

Then as now, bigger stories tended to eclipse U.S. public awareness of such “far-away” events. (Such as the huge, illicit, worldwide shipments of black market arms brokered by a prominent Saudi billionaire coincidentally (?) named Adnan Khashoggi).

How far away is all this from Hicks’ digital color masterpieces of the wrinkled bodies and dying faces half a century later? Too far? Or not far enough? In my ongoing series,I have already shared some of my 1964 Yemen Kodachromes with you. Here’s one from that same journey, borrowed from my most recent blog on children. Is the black and white imagery outdated? I hope not.

Read my 4-part series, “Yemen: Then as Now?”

Written by bywilliamcarter

October 29, 2018 at 1:10 am

Those Teens Part 7

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With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

ateens7.1jpgEngland, c. 1967

teens7.2Iraq, c. 1965

teens7.3California, c. 1960

teens7.4Illinois, c. 1973

teens7.5California, c. 1974

teens7.6Yemen, c. 1964

teens7.7Tibet, c. 1992

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

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October 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Those Teens Part 6

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With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

teens6.1Virginia, c. 2010

teens6.2Virginia, c. 2011

teens6.3Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.4Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.5Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.6England, c. 1964

teens6.7England, c. 1964

teens6.8Yemen, c. 1964

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

Written by bywilliamcarter

October 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Those Teens Part 5

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With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

teens5.1Iraq, c. 1965

teens5.2Iraq, c. 1965

teens5.3Indiana, c. 1972

teens5.4Kansas, c. 1971

teens5.5England, c. 1967

teens5.6England, c. 1967

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

Written by bywilliamcarter

October 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm

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