Jazz Music

It was accidental that I started photographing musicians in performance…in 1984 after two years of booking musicians into the village vanguard, I bought a point and shoot camera to take snapshots backstage (at the suggestion of my friend drummer Denis Charles)…I moved quickly to photographing them on stage.

I shot these color slide photos of Jazz musician’s in performance in the early 1990’s …they are some of a group of photos I shot to be viewed by the Smithsonian museum for display in the music department…they chose eight photos from these which are on permanent display in the musical instruments department…I always shot jazz in black and white but had started shooting in color after I had been photographing African diaspora musicians in performance at the same time.

I was just looking back over the photos and feel they have stood up well since I took them…I noticed about half of the musicians in this group are dead now….it is such a loss not to be able to hear them live anymore…thankfully we have their recorded music.

The first picture on the page of expat Johnny Griffin is very fine and one of my favorites…Al Foster’s photo shows how thrilled he was to be playing…he was like a kid talking about checking his answering machine to find messages from Miles and Sonny…I think the picture of Charles Gayle couldn’t be any better…I especially like the pictures of Jackie Mac, Max and Roy Haynes…my good friend Don Cherry’s photograph is my favorite…loved his little b flat horn… three other dear friends whose pictures I’m proud to have taken are Charlie Haden, Edward Blackwell and Dewey Redman…I was lucky not to have been reprimanded by Sonny Rollins… I only found out after the set he didn’t like to be photographed…I usually always got permission to shoot but he had already started playing before I got there…I also think the picture of Victor Lewis is special…it shows a drummer’s (my favorite instrument) concentration and ecstasy…my very favorite place to photograph and hear the music was the Vanguard… Max Gordon’s baby…