William P. Gottlieb took most of his photographs while on assignments for the Washington Post, Down Beat magazine, and Record Changer. He had a weekly jazz column in the Post, a series of articles and reviews in Down Beat, and a monthly column in Record Changer. This special presentation features four examples of his Down Beat assignments. (The displayed portraits below represent a single shoot; other photographs of the artists can be found elsewhere in the collection.)
Thelonious Monk -- Genius of Bop: Elusive Pianist Finally Caught in an Interview
Down Beat 14, no. 20 (Sept. 24, 1947): 2.
When the elusive Thelonious Monk disappeared from the jazz scene in 1947, Gottlieb embarked on a mission to track down the jazz giant. With the help of Mary Lou Williams, widely regarded as the most significant female instrumentalist, composer, and arranger in jazz, Gottlieb located Monk and took him to Minton's Playhouse where he had once worked as house pianist.
Dardanelle is Versatile: Dardanelle and Her Trio
Down Beat 13, no. 13 (June 17, 1946): 13.
An accomplished pianist, vibraphonist, and singer, Dardanelle has led an active career as a pioneering female jazz performer, recording artist, and radio and television personality. She is one of the few jazz musicians from the "Golden Age of Jazz" with whom Gottlieb still maintains a close relationship. On this particular Down Beat assignment, Gottlieb reviewed a performance by his friend Dardanelle when she appeared at the Sheraton Hotel with Joe Sinacore and Bert Nazer. In typical Down Beat fashion, the article concludes with a response from the artist.
Lion Tracked to his Lair -- or Willie Smith's Story
Down Beat 16, no. 1 (Jan. 1, 1947): 14.
Willie "the Lion" Smith's flamboyant character, coupled with his legendary derby hat, cigar, and thick glasses, made him an ideal sitter for a Gottlieb portrait. Approximately ten years after Gottlieb met "The Lion" for the first time, he interviewed the jazz pianist and composer in his home. The subsequent piece is characterized by Gottlieb's clever and witty "hep cat" writing style.
Buddy Rich Forgets His Drums; Leads a New, Sweeter Band
Down Beat 14, no. 11 (May 21, 1947): 14.
Gottlieb reviewed drum virtuoso Buddy Rich in concert when Rich was leading his own band and had begun to experiment with singing. Several times throughout his career, Rich quit playing drums to be either a dancer or a singer, but ultimately he always returned to drumming. His vocal style has been compared to Mel Tormé's and Frank Sinatra's. At the end of the article, Rich responds favorably to Gottlieb's assessment of the concert.