12 Mar 2010, 10:35pm
Jazz music Personal:


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    Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
  • Hanging Out With The Man From Saturn

    Several people have asked me to tell the story of my encounters with Sun Ra.

    Over a span of about six or seven years, I caught Sun Ra and his Arkestra in Boston at least eleven times. While that’s not a lot by Deadhead standards, it’s probably more than I’ve seen any other musician live, with the exception of the great khyal singer Bhimsen Joshi.

    To an alienated, jazz-obsessed teenager in Boston’s western suburbs, the knowledge that there was a bandleading madman who claimed to be from outer space was incredibly welcome. My high school library maintained subscriptions to a wide variety of periodicals — the usual suspects (Time, Newsweek, Life), some slightly more unconventional choices (The New Yorker, Ms.), and a few that were pretty bizarre. Of these last, there were three that made a huge impression on me: The Village Voice (where I first read about conceptual art, Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman), Source: Music of the Avant-Garde (where I first heard of Cornelius Cardew, Christo, Steve Reich and Alvin Lucier), and Downbeat (where I kept up to date on all the latest jazz happenings, and where I first learned of the existence of Sun Ra).

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    Jazz Photoblogging

    I love photographing musicians — probably because I’m a musician myself, and it’s a wonderful challenge to capture some of the immediacy of live performance on film.

    There have been two times in my life when I was really active in music photography.  Once in the mid-1980s when I was living in India, and had the chance to get pictures of many of the Subcontinent’s greatest artists in concert, in rehearsal, and in private.  And once in the mid-1970s when I was still in high school and had access to the school darkroom…and I took the Miranda SLR my father had given me to dozens of jazz concerts.

    I had made a firm decision that I would not use flash; I did not wish to disturb the musicians by popping flashbulbs while they played. So I used high-speed film, underexposed and overdeveloped (a procedure known as “pushing” – I used Tri-X, pushed to ASA 1600, for all you b&w old-timers out there).

    I got some good results, too. Here are a few images I’m particularly happy with:

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