The cover of Sittin' In.

If asked to visualize a jazz club in the 1940s or ’50s, most people would think of a trumpet player onstage holding their instrument high, glistening through circles of cigarette smoke, like in famous black and white photos from photographers Herman Leonard or William Gottlieb. But in music memorabilia collector Jeff Gold’s new book, Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s, the focus is on the audience, or on posed photos of musicians with members of the audience, in cities including New York, D.C., St. Louis, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The book also includes Gold’s interviews with jazz musicians Sonny Rollins, Jason Moran, and others about these images. The pictures of clubgoers at tables were taken largely by photographers that worked for the clubs and sold them as souvenirs. For Gold, the men’s sharp suits and the women’s striking hats, the glee a White couple show in a photo with pianist Oscar Peterson, and integrated aspects of the clubs on 52nd street in New York City paint a positive and overlooked picture of the jazz scene of that time. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post critic Robin Givhan is interviewed in the book; she, on the other hand, points out that the images show Black people in a segregated America who “always had to sort of be dressed beyond reproach.” The 9-page D.C. chapter includes an overview of the integrated gigs presented by the Ertegun brothers at the Turkish Embassy at a time when the city was officially segregated. Later, it shows photos of White servicemen and women at H Street’s Club Kavakos, and Black servicemen with dates in dressy civilian clothes at 14th Street’s Club Bali. There’s also a photo of Crystal Caverns on U Street NW that shows a table of Black men in tuxes and women in nice dresses below the trademark stalactites in the ceiling of that basement location. Later known as Bohemian Caverns, it featured jazz on and off over the years until 2016—and hopefully will again someday. The book is available at $39.99.