Paul Studer 1950s Jazz Photos

These candid images of the jazz world were captured over fifty years ago,

and they have remained unpublished until now.

We are excited to take them out of hiding, and share them with you.

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Paul Studer grew up in Switzerland and Italy. During his teens, he started to play the clarinet, and he began to form an interest in jazz. While still in Europe, he read jazz periodicals, collected records and founded the International Jazz Club. His interest burgeoned into a full-blown passion, and in 1956 he packed up his belongings to go to New York City in search of the amazing world of jazz.

In New York he fully immersed himself in the jazz scene. He went to concerts and events, he became acquainted with famous artists, and they readily welcomed him into their lives. They invited him backstage, into their homes, to parties, festivals, and even into the recording studio. He remembers the experience as vibrant, cheerful, and humorous. Wherever he went, it was a celebration and he reveled in it. 

Studer dated Jeann "Roni" Failowsa devoted jazz fan and friend to many jazz musicians. Studer and Failows went everywhere together, and he took pictures of their experiences, many with her in them.

These are the photographs of that experience, published for the first time. Contained in this website are about half of the 750 that he took. The negatives sat in storage for 50 years until Studer’s friend Laurie Sonnenfeld, a longtime realtor, and DJ at local Portland, OR community radio station KBOO, found out about them and became interested. Sonnenfeld spearheaded an effort to release the photographs to the public and in 2007, she produced an exhibit at her real estate office, and the collection was received with local acclaim. Nine years later, Studer discovered that some of his collection is featured in the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York. Studer recalled that he had given a collection of his negatives to Failows, and this was the first he had heard of the museum. Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections at the museum, offered him the privilege of donating his materials to the museum, and now Studer is moving forward with his intention to share these photographs with the world.

With much help from Ricky Riccardi, Richard Basi, Fernando Ortiz de Urbina and a few others, we have been able to jog Studer's memory after all these years, and identify many of the people in the photographs. We are thankful to those who have encouraged us and helped us to publish these photographs, and we hope you enjoy this joyful glimpse into a scene rich with celebration, humor, and generosity.

Jessica Studer Guadagna, daughter

Read Studer's full biography here.

We would love to hear from you! If you have a comment or a question, you can find the comment icon at the bottom right corner of each photograph. Or, you can find a comment box at the bottom of each gallery of photographs. You can also send a message from the email icon on this, the home page. If you are related to or are or were acquainted with any of the people in the photographs, please let us know. Or, if you have any stories to share about the people, places, and events, we would love to hear them. 

Special thanks to Ricky Riccardi,

Laurie Sonnenfeld,

Richard Basi,

and all who have helped in this endeavor!