I love photographing musicians but I am never happy with the results. Perhaps I am just too critical of myself but it has always been that way. I am sure I have thousands of “masterpieces” stashed away in some dark place but I will never see them.
Last night I watched a documentary that I had recorded on my TV about Blue Note Records. It was about the record company that defined Jazz recording in the 50’s and 60’s. Not only did I love the music, but I absolutely adored the album covers which were usually in Black and White and tinted with a cold blue haze that I could not help but fall in love with. The graphics were always Helvetica and the design was always “funky crisp”. The only one I remember that differentiated from this pattern was a Horace Silver album called “Blowing the Blues Away” which had a scratchy line drawing instead of a photo. — but I digress. In any case, these are the memories that I grew up with and the program about the two guys who began this company rivited me throughout.
A few days ago we invited my new neighbor to come in for a drink. He had one… or two… or more and began to ramble about his past acheivements. Somhow he ended up telling me that he was CEO of a company called CTI records which I had never heard of. He raved about having Rudy Van Gelder as his producer and Pete Turner doing the album covers, and the endless list of “names” that they recorded. I thought I knew everything about Jazz records which were produced then — I mean, For a few years I did nothing more than spend all my money at Alec Sherman’s in Montreal, rummaging through their jazz selections looking for a new Charlie Mingus or Thelonious Monk disk to bring back— rip off the cellophane wrapper and throw it on my turntable, gingerly place the stylus on the vinyl, light up a joint and listen away. But I had never heard of CTI so I immediately dismissed him as a bullshitter who just happened to know these names. He spun a good tale though so I patiently listened to him ramble on until after midnight when he left. As soon as I shut the door, I raced upstairs and Googled CTI and found out that there was a record company by this name, they were well known for the design of their album covers (all by Pete Turner) and I guess he wasn’t a bullshitter after all. My lesson learned is that in these modern times, you can always check something out on Google instead of dismissing someone outright. But I digress again.
Why am I saying all of this? Its because a while back, I was interviewed by an Italian Photo magazine (Zoom) and they asked me how I came to be a photographer. I absolutely forgot to mention this early inspiration, but I will say it now— if it weren’t for those Blue Note album covers, I doubt I would ever be a photographer today. And If I were, I would be much more satisfied with my musician pictures since I would noit have to compare them with those old masterpieces. Oh ya— sorry I doubted you Jerry.