I’m not a particularly social type. My wife is the opposite, she’ll know everything about someone, including their family tree and names of their grandchildren in 7 minutes, and, she will remember it years later. Me? I can’t remember the names of my first cousin’s kids. That said, I am interested in people, one on one, especially artists and craftsmen. This brings me to my affinity for portraits. I’ve always held that those lines, wrinkles and facial adornments are the story of a subject’s life. I’ve done everything from baby portraits early in my career to corporate and political types in my editorial assignments. My favorites have always sessions with creative talent that I both admired and envied. Yes, envy, as I am human. Photography allowed me to be around these wonderful people for a few minutes.
Herewith are some of my favorites.
The first image is painter Donald MacKenzie who lives on the Isle of Skye. His work has been exhibited at the The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland. The second is Andrew Appleby, a master potter on Orkney, Scotland.
Third in the group is Laszlo Hegedus, a cabinet-maker of extreme talent and creativity. I’ve known Laszlo for years, the mountain man visage is new. He stopped shaving and cutting his hair when the Covid pandemic started. He said he will shave it when it is declared over. The light at the end of the tunnel is flickering.
The next series of photographs are from my archives. In the early 1980s I was shooting musicians between sets at the Cellar Door in D.C. There was a little couch on the second floor with a white wall behind it. I had 5 or 10 minutes to get my shots. It saddens me that these four have passed, but I treasure the brief interactions.
First in this series is American Jazz singer Joe Williams. He sang with Count Basie and Lionel Hampton and won the Best Jazz Vocal Performance Grammy for his LP Nothin’ But The Blues in 1984.
Second is legendary jazz trumpeter and band leader Maynard Ferguson. He became prominent playing in Stan Kenton’s band and formed the first of his bands in 1957.
Third is Michel Petrucciani, a French jazz pianist. He had osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disease that causes brittle bones and, in his case, short stature.He became one of the most accomplished jazz pianists of his generation. Petrucciani’s layered harmonies, lyrical style, and articulation of melody have always been linked most strongly to his early exposure to Bill Evans. Petrucciani passed in 1999.
Last is French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. His is certainly one of the great faces I have had the pleasure to photograph. By the time I met him he had a 50 year career. He started the all string jazz band Quinette du Hot Club de France in 1934. He recorded over 40 albums and collaborations with artists as diverse as Yehudi Menhuin, Jean Luc Ponty, Paul Simon and Gary Burton.