Those familiar with my work know without jazz, there’d be a sizable void in what I’ve been able to create, and without radio, there’d be an even more astronomical void in the universe of music in general. Therefore, when I was offered a chance to support WBGO as the photographer for their annual Gala, Wednesday, November 6th at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, only the word “yes” was an option.
I set up a photo booth and asked the patrons what jazz meant to them. Here are a few examples of what they had to say,
11-time Grammy winner and Latin Music Master Paquito D’Rivera:
T.S. Monk with Thomas R. Carter, President of the The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz:
WBGO Special Events and Programs Coordinator and widow of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dorthaan Kirk:
Publisher of Downbeat Magazine, Frank Alkyer:
We were also treated to performances by this year’s Theloneous Monk International Jazz Saxophone Award winner, Melissa Aldana,
Kenny Barron, and Jazz bassist Christian McBride’s group Inside Straight.
I was also honored to have a portrait shoot at my studio as well as an Instrumenthead print auctioned off with proceeds benefitting WBGO. Public radio is and has always been the best forum for keeping listeners in tune with their local communities and giving voice to indigenous music that may not get opportunities elsewhere. Jazz is the perfect example of this because it is truly an American art form and language of the people that would not likely be heard without stations like WBGO.
It all started with a call offering a venue, then a five-week whirlwind of selection, construction, hell and literal high water, then launch. My first major exhibition of Instrumenthead, a surrealist photo series I started seven years ago on a whim, took over a warehouse space connected to the Frenchman Art Market coinciding with the start of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
In the lead up to opening, a fortuitous connection with Cleveland, Ohio printing company Jakprints made possible 75 36” x 48” Giclee prints, sent then to Birmingham, Alabama for framing by my old friend James Gunter. I trucked the finished product to the venue at 2121 Chartres and unloaded in time for a deluge flood nearly damaging everything. We dried off and kicked off with a huge party with music by DJ Logic, Eric McFadden, Rob Mecurio, Nigel Hall and Erik Bolivar. The rain continued to wreak havoc so we built a preverbal boat and sailed on, lemonade in hand.
scrambling to save the prints
A wide view of the space
Over the course of two weeks, over 7,000 individuals attended our exhibition including many of the artists on display like Col. Bruce Hampton, Skerik, George Porter Jr., Steven Bernstein, Charlie Musselwhite, Lenny White, Bill Summers, Martha Redbone, Big Chief Donald Harrison, and Eric Lindell. Many friends stopped by to loan their musical talents. Guests enjoyed the London Souls, Papa Mali and Friends, the High and Mighty Brass Band, Adam Falcon, Leyla McCalla, D. Ryva Parker, Dustan Louque and the Royal Vagabonds, Tondrae Kemp and DJ Strategy.
The London Souls Rocking!
Papa Mali and Brad Houser performing late night
Leyla McCalla performing her unique cello style
The High and Mighty Brass Band second lines into the Gallery
We even had an airealist
For more photos, visit my Facebook Gallery.
The generosity of those who took the opportunity to invest in us with a Limited Edition Giclee Print, commemorative Lithograph or postcard set will not be forgotten and proceeds will be shared with the New Orleans Musician’s Assistance Foundation and the Tipitina’s Foundation. NOMAF meets the health and well-being needs of local New Orleans artists, and Tipitina’s works to support musicians of all ages and the preservation of the local musical culture. They help make the music possible, please consider supporting them further by direct donations here and here or through a purchase of select items in our store.
Benefiting local Charities
Thanks again to everyone who helped make this possible: all of the artists who posed for Instrumenthead, Gregor Fox and Jennifer Taylor for giving us the space, everyone at the Frenchman Art Market, my crew: Ellie Sanders, Drew Caitlin, Michael and Serena Smith, and Margaret Williard and of course our sponsor Dameon Guess and Jakprints who made my dream a physical reality. As the great drummer Lenny White said, “This was your dream and now you’re awake.” Thank you all for coming, we can’t wait to do it again.
An aerial view