In 1982, The National Endowment for the Arts created an endowment to recognize excellence in the uniquely American musical art form we know as jazz. It has been my great good fortune to be associated with the NEA for a number of years, following a life-long love and appreciation of jazz that began at the feet of my father, listening to Washington, D.C. disc jockey Felix Grant spin records by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz. In the many years since, I have photographed and designed album covers for several of my heroes, but at no other time am I so blessed to be in the presence of such a concentration of musical giants than when I head to New York City to work with my good friends at the NEA on the yearly JazzMasters events at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hosted by Wynton Marsalis & Soledad O’Brien, this year saw the celebration of the work and lives of 4 new Masters- Jamey Aebersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis and Keith Jarrett, and four more talented, and diverse artistic souls you could never hope to meet under one roof. As always, it was a pleasure to work with the dedicated and tireless staff at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and all the wonderful folks from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The 2014 Jazz Masters Anthony Braxton, Jamey Aebersold, Richard Davis & Keith Jarrett
A rousing piece of operatic jazz composed by Anthony Braxton
Avant-jazz guitarist Bill Frisell
past JazzMasters Kenny Barron & Jimmy Owens
Keith Jarrett explains all
Thelonius Monk competition winner, saxophonist Melissa Aldana
Annie Ross & Jon Hendricks having a grand old time
It was a rare day in Washington, D.C. The fall air was cool and crisp, the sky was a clear, deep shade of blue, and the rumble and static of the voices from Capitol Hill was muted and the desire to commune with nature and enjoy an afternoon of tranquility seized my very soul. Where to go? Why, the cemetery beckoned, of course, and having neglected the famous gentle hills of Congressional Cemetery, in the shadow of the ever popular D.C. Jail, we set off for a stroll through the tombstones of the famous and powerful. Unlike nearby Oak Hill or Rock Creek cemeteries, Congressional is sadly lacking in unique or interesting funerary art or style. These are, after all, politicians, and this is one of the few places in Washington where the pol’s are silent, but so much like their living counterparts, they still do nothing. Which came first? A fitting tribute to the concept of term limits, it appears that many past Congressmen lived short lives, 35-45 seems about average in many cases, so perhaps our contemporary politicians could take a cue from their forefathers!
No humility here
Muted and classic architecture of death
Congress is in recess- The remains of Congressmen past
A beautiful fall day in Washington – an opportunity for reflection
The other side of America- A stunning totem pole in Washington’s Congressional Cemetery
We can only pray that our elected officials will finally grow up, act like adults, and try to work for the betterment of the country
Once again the first weekend in June has rolled around, and once again I’m on the road to scenic Princeton, Kentucky- home of the Pennington Folk Festival- now celebrating its 16th year, and how sweet it is! For the third time, Eddie, his lovely wife Penny, and their children Alonzo and Rosebud have welcomed us into their community to attend, photograph and help out with one of the most charming little music festivals in the country. The people are friendly, the music is inspired and guaranteed to put a smile on your face and set your toe to tapping! A world class guitarist and winner of accolades too numerous to mention, Eddie is a master thumbpicker in the style made famous by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, and a member of the Thumbpickers Hall of Fame, as well as a winner of the National Endowment for the Arts coveted Heritage Fellows Award. Although the threat of severe weather forced the Festival from its usual sunny outdoors location and into the Butler gymnasium, the rains could not dampen the spirits of the performers, or the crowd as the music and the smiles brought sunshine to the little town of Princeton, Kentucky for yet another year of Penningtonfest! A special thanks should also go out to Stacey, Dog and all the other tireless volunteers and contributors that make this all possible. Great work, y’all!!
A whole lot of talent, professional and homegrown
Friday night headliner, Blues guitarist- Bosco France
Bosco gets down!!
The fine folks of Princeton, Caldwell County
The big man himself- Eddie Pennington- and all the talented family
Saturday night headliner, country legend Gene Watson
Once again, the intrepid traveler and neon explorer has loaded up the trusty Retromobile and set a southwesterly course through Kentucky and on to Tennessee before making my yearly pilgrimage to Princeton and Penningtonfest! As planned, it was a long drive, but one teeming with roadside treasures and surprises galore. My trusty and loyal crew and I were rewarded with new adventures and plenty of bizarre and interesting bits of vanishing small town Americana. …and, of course, plenty of neon, lost commercial ephemera from bygone eras and interesting architecture that the 21st Century has bid a not so fond farewell to in favor of a landscape of homogenized conformity.
What would a trip to Memphis be without a stop to Graceland. Sorry, no published pictures allowed! Elvis, Elvis!
Historic Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis- Beautiful!
Some cool neon in Memphis
I just LOVED this house- Was formerly a Doctor’s office, now up for sale, but too far from anything to make it practical
Old small town movie theaters
Several generations of wildly diverse roadside architecture in the South
Who knew that rural Tennessee was home to such great Deco design?
OK, OK- I admit that I may be biased, but I just wanted to give a great big shout out to some fabulous people that get very little recognition for the very hard work that they do in support of the arts, and artists of America! The National Endowment for the Arts does tremendous work to keep ALL the arts alive and vibrant in this great country of ours and the staff people in the trenches put in long and difficult hours to be sure that our society’s greatest creative gifts and treasures are not forgotten! These are just a very few of my friends and colleagues who made my job so much easier at the Jazz Masters ( not to mention the Heritage Fellows ), and I just wanted to say thanks again! (apologies to everyone behind the scenes that I’ve left out-)
Since 1982, the NEA has presented the Jazz Masters Fellowships, our nation’s highest honor to those individuals whose contributions to this uniquely American art form have made them worthy of special recognition. The ceremony and concert was held at the intimate Dizzy’s Club, in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex, and honored the life’s work of Eddie Palmieri, Mose Allison, Lou Donaldson and Lorraine Gordon. Sharing the stage with these legendary jazz luminaries was the all star rhythm section of Kenny Barron on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. In addition, the crowd was treated to performances by special guests ( and past Jazz Masters Fellows ) Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, Sheila Jordan, David Liebman and Paquito D’Rivera. It is an honor and a great privilege for me to be part of this summit of such stellar jazz luminaries, and as always, I applaud the National Endowment for the Arts in their tireless efforts in keeping the arts alive and vibrant in these difficult financial times. I hope my meager contribution of creating these ( and many more) images of the event helps to keep jazz, and all American art in the public eye. If these photos are not enough, be sure to track down the music of these gifted musicians, and the thousands of others, past and present, who create that fabulous American art form we know as JAZZ!
THE PORTRAIT SESSIONS
Top to bottom- Kenny Barron & Jimmy Heath, Sheila Jordan, Lou Donaldson & Kenny Barron, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Liebman, Ron Carter, Paquito D’Rivera
On December 29, 2012 the music world lost a true gentleman and a guiding light in bluegrass. A unique innovator, Mike Auldridge helped to re-define the role of the dobro in bluegrass and country music and brought a new sound and style to the musical world. I had listened to Mike and the influential band he helped to found, The Seldom Scene, for years, but it was only late in his life that I had the opportunity to work with him. He was a kind, sensitive and courtly man, and his sound and influence will be greatly missed. MIKE AULDRIDGE Truly a Legend
At Lisner Auditorium with fellow National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Fellow winner Andy Statman on mandolin, Mike Auldridge ( center ) and dobro wiz Rob Ickes (r)