I was present during the birth of my two daughters, Sassia and Mika, and, believe me, there’s nothing like it. I also was at the figurative birth of Thomas Marriott’s latest creation, the “Flexicon” CD. And that, too, was awesome.
In my opinion, the highlight of the performance, as well as the CD, is Marriott’s tune, “Little Frances,” about his daughter. To some, it is a melancholy song, so much that Marriott says people sometimes ask if anything is wrong with Frances (a resounding, “No!”). I hear a father’s emotional homage to his daughter, and the flugelhorn Marriott used during the CD release party gave it a light and playful touch (check out the clip):
This clip, by the way, was exactly what Florangela Davila and I needed for our video project on Marriott and the KPLU School of Jazz. I open with his fingers on the valves, in front of the mic, and pan to a full shot of Marriott and his horn, to first surprise, then answer (just as one of my mentors, Travis Fox, once instructed).
I repurposed a portion of the audio from the above video clip to also produce a Soundslides presentation from the performance, which took place May 12, 2009 at the Triple Door in Seattle, Wash. You can check out the presentation (broadband connection is highly advised; FYI: images are 1280 x 720 resolution):
First off, I’ve wanted to photograph another live jazz performance since my first one (see: It’s All Relative) was conducted in cave-like conditions. Of course, the lighting is not going to get too much better, but at least at the Triple Door there are stage lights. These are necessary because one cannot use flashes, which could potentially distract the artists, especially in such a dark environment.
I led off the Soundslides show with the following because it is my favorite. Jazz is such a personal music genre and I think (hope) this tight shot of Marriott helps convey the emotion of his performance. As you’ll note, I shot this at a very high ISO and, compared, to just a year or so ago, the results almost are miraculous.
I like the following, of bassist Jeff Johnson, also because it shows emotion and focus. But I backed out a little on this one because I thought the blue lights in the background added some ambiance. Note the ginormous ISO.
Finally, I shot a lot of detail shots, the way one should when trying to chronicle an event. I got crowd shots, table shots, equipment shots and the like. Ultimately, I wanted to focus this Soundslides on the artists, since it was for the release of Marriott’s new CD, and all of these men appear on the recording. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have any detail shots; I included the following, which is similar to that in the video clip. In the larger version used in the Soundslides, you can see the reflection of Marriott in his horn.
By the way, again, all of the shots I posted were made with the D700. That doesn’t mean it’s my favorite, or best, camera body. I just like to pair my D3 with my 85mm f.1.4 lens to create the fastest combination possible for me. That combo (usually at ISO 2500) took the wider pictures in the Soundslides. I went lower on the ISO and shutter speeds when I wanted more dramatic, contrasty images.
All in all, I feel like I got a lot of flexibility out of the Sony HVRZ7U video camera, the D3 and D700, plus 200mm f2.0, 85mm f1.4 and 14-24mm f2.8 lenses. It was a lot to manage but, hey, it was a very important occasion.