Ted Williams (1925-2009) first heard jazz on the radio as a youngster in the 1930s in Wichita, Kansas. Later on when he moved to Chicago, he started capturing unguarded photographic studies of some of the era’s greatest jazz musicians. On June 21, 1964, he participated in one of the largest peaceful protests in American history, capturing on film a pivotal moment in the fight for racial equality: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights. His work appeared in major international publications including Time, Newsweek, Look, Playboy and Ebony. He photographed many of the greats in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. Williams’ historic archive runs to more than 100,000 images and comprises perhaps the most intimate and complete collection of Jazz’s greatest musicians at work, rest and play.

Billie Holiday performing in Chicago
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Illinois