And All That Jazz

When one has the opportunity to be an Event Photographer for the Pasadena Jazz Fest at the LA Arboretum, one does not turn that opportunity down. This is what a friend of mine calls “professional play” – and the more of it in my life, the better.

The lineup at this year’s Jazz Fest was ridiculous.  We’re talking Stanley Clarke, Everlast, Booker T, Doc Powell, Hubert Laws…and the list of jazz Greats went on and on.

The thing about jazz is, you feel it. You experience it. You jive to it.  You swoon to it.

And I’m a sucker for taking photos of beautiful, emotionally unrenstrained experiences. Like weddings – but that’s another post.

Kevin Eubanks (the right-hand man of Jay Leno for all the good years) was one of the first performers I got to photograph. He seemed happy, mellow, and smooth, just as he was on the Tonight Show.

P.S. If you recognize the woman to his left, you’ve watched too many car chases on Fox 11 news.

After Kevin’s set was over, I set out to investigate the food situation.

Come on, if you know me, then you knew that I wasn’t going to get through this blog post without some shots of the food!

The cuisine at the Jazz Fest wasn’t healthy by any means, but the best food rarely is.

I challenge you to not crave a funnel cake right now. Its the perfect summer festival dessert.

As the day continued, the tempo of the music quickened and the bands began to ooze with soul…

And the light began to get really pretty.

I have to say, the arboretum just can’t be beat as a concert venue. Its intimate yet grand; wild yet well-structured.

And it couldn’t be more gorgeous.

These guys frequently play at redwhite+bluezz in Pasadena. They really got the crowd dancing!

Then dusk turned to darkness, and Everlast took the stage:

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes

‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues

Then you really might know what it’s like

To have to choose.

For me, the highlight of the evening was Stanley Clark, bass legend. He was declared one of the most influential musicians in the world when he was 25 years old and hasn’t slowed down.

What struck me about Stanley is that he seemed like a reserved kind of a guy, but put a bass guitar in his hands and he couldn’t hold back how the jazz affected him: he looked like he was in pain, elated and in worship all at the same time.

Stanley Clark’s is method for playing bass is unique: he holds the guitar at a 90-degree angle. This sharpens the way the strings are plucked, thus intensifying the sound, or, as Wikipedia calls it, leading to a “biting percussive attack.”

But really, its lovely.

The music played into the night, well after the scheduled hour of closing.

Jazz has a life of its own and cannot be subjected to linear schedules. It is surprising, free, and unpredictable.

And sometimes, that’s just what I need.