Chuck Koton's Biography

Born into a family of photographers, Chuck Koton's passion for photography may have been inevitable. At a young age, his father's mysterious boxes, covered with knobs and buttons and able to magically capture forever the briefest of moments, exerted an irresistable attraction on his imagination. As a teenager, Chuck began carrying his camera wherever he went. While in high school, he even set up a darkroom in his parents' Bronx apartment.

It was around this same time that Koton began his lifelong love affair with jazz. Initially, it was a particularly provocative album cover that first lured him to the music. One night, he came across his older brother's copy of the Miles Davis album, Someday My Prince Will Come, that featured the suggestively naked picture of Davis' wife on the cover. After playing that transcendent recording on the family's stereo system, Chuck Koton's life was never the same.

During his junior year in high school, Chuck and a couple of his hip friends began taking the “A” train downtown to Greenwich Village where they would spend many nights at the Village Vanguard and other jazz clubs, mesmerized by musicians like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra. It was only natural that Koton would bring his camera along to preserve these unforgettable experiences on film.

About 15 years ago, Koton resolved to put his energy and resources into a lifetime project documenting these brilliant, dedicated and, too often, under appreciated jazz players. Koton's approach to capturing the essence of jazz is to simply convey, with the use of light, shadow and motion, what the music and these jazz musicians mean to him: dignity, the entire spectrum of human emotion and, of course, swing!