The Sunday Jazz Brunch Presents

Guest Column: Photography and Jazz II

By Mitch Bleier

Air Date: 10/29/2023 on 90.5 WICN 8am-12pm ET

This is the second in a series of guest columns about the intersection of jazz and other arts - in this case photography. Read the first column here. Contact Mitch at or @mitch.bleier on Instagram.

Musicians connect and communicate with the audience mostly with the sounds they produce, but also emotionally. They provide novel sonic experiences and tap into the familiar in their shared cultures.

Los Hacheros at Wave Hill Garden Bronx, New York, July 2023 by Mitch Bleier

The still photographer tries to communicate the energy, excitement, soul, virtuosity, and other qualities of a performance without the benefit of sound or motion. Usually the photographer is a documentarian, capturing and sharing moments in time for the viewer without her/himself being part of the story.

Mario Santana/Sancocho Band at Rosendale (NY) Street Festival July 2023 by Mitch Bleier 

In the theater and on the screen, breaking the fourth wall indicates that a performer briefly steps away from the action as s/he becomes aware of, or acknowledges the audience. Groucho Marx and Eddie Murphy are masters of this. Shakespeare also made good use of the technique.

Takuma Kaniwa/Jared Pauley Group at RiverArts Music Tour Yonkers, NY June 2023 by Mitch Bleier

Breaking the fourth wall is both a taboo and a technique for advancing a story. In photography we are talking about a visual narrative. The photographer is ostensibly recording or documenting the event without being a part of it. However, sometimes, eye contact from performers draws the viewer into the conversation. Being a regular or interacting with musicians before a performance may result in a nod, or subtle acknowledgment during the show. Sometime just making eye contact from behind the camera is enough to get a great shot. And, of course, there is luck.
Claves/Trumpet player/Kiki Valero y su Son Cubano Riverbank Park, Harlem, NYC June 2023 by Mitch Bleier
While I am always on the lookout for brief intimate moments between musicians and the camera, my attitude is that “if it happens, it happens.” The last thing I want to do is be a distraction to players or audience. These are a few of these moments from recent performances.

Ulises Beato on congas with Conjunto Guantánamo New Rochelle, NY July 2023 by Mitch Bleier
Thanks Mitch for these great pictures, and thank you dear reader, for tuning in to the Sunday Jazz Brunch. 


Top Photo: Glen Leach, Worla’ Roots band. Outdoor concert, Bronx, NY July 2016 by Mitch Bleier


HOUR ONE: Contemplative Morning

Joe Locascio\November The Music of Phil Gurlik 2023\November
Bill Cunliffe Trio\Border Widow's Lament 2023\Reflections
Buster Williams\Unalome 2023\Estate feat Jean Baylor
Peter Smith\Dollar Dreams 2023\07-Sleep by Day, Live by Night
Chris Keefe\Chris Keefe 2023\4 I Fall In Love Too Easily
Stan Hope-Put on a Happy Face 2005-04 Easy to Love
Eric Reed\Black Brown and Blue 2023\Infant Eyes
Ben Wolfe-Unjust 2022-09 Sparkling Red
Nicholas Payton-Smoke Sessions 2021-04 No Lonely Nights

HOUR TWO: New For You

Bill Cunliffe Trio\Border Widow's Lament 2023\Looking Back
Pierre Chambers\Shining Moments 2023\09 - The Way You Look Tonight
Brendan Lanighan Octet\A Little Optimism \008 Little Garlic Knot
Michael Dease\The-Other-Shoe 2023\Shorty's Tune
Leo Sidran\What's Trending 2023\Everybody's Faking
Mike Melito\To Swing is The Thing 2023\Blue Key
Joe Locascio\November The Music of Phil Gurlik 2023\It's Alright
Leo Sidran\What's Trending 2023
Chris Keefe\Chris Keefe 2023\Dream
Dizzy & Fay\Hooked 2023\Never Mind
Buster Williams\Unalome\42nd Street feat Jean Baylor

HOUR THREE: Brazil/World

Bill Cunliffe Trio-Sunrise Over Molokai-10 Tereza My Love 2019
Dave Bass-The Trio Vol. 3 2023-06 El Ciego
Carlos Odria-Obomayne 2023-08 Mimosa Bossa
Hendrik Meurkens-Celebrando-11 Celebrando 2012
Gal Costa-Minha Voz, Minha Vida 2001-12 Falsa Baiana
Dan Costa\Suite Três Rios\Baiao
Dafnis Prieto Featuring Luciana Souza-Cantar 2022-07 Amanhecer Contigo
Antonio Adolfo\Jobim Forever 06 Inutil Paisagem
Daniela Soledade\Pretty World 2022\Nothing Compares (featuring Harry Allen)
Tony Monaco\Strollin 2021\Happy Sergio
Nate N-Under Paris Skies-05 Sous le ciel De Paris 2018
Karrin Allyson-Imagina- Songs of Brazil-09 Imagina 2008

HOUR FOUR: Groove, Baby

Keiko Matsui\Euphoria V2\ 06 - Luminescence (Featuring Kirk Whalum)
Leo Sidran-What's Trending 2023-07 Hanging by a Thread
Mike Melito\To Swing is The Thing 2023\Blue Key
Gregory Porter-Liquid Spirit-09 Brown Grass
The 3 Keys-We 3 Keys 2023-02 Piano Bar
Yellowjackets-Parallel Motion 2022-02 Challenging Times
Pierre Chambers\Shining Moments 2023\Dear Anne
Buzz Amato\Muse Cafe 2023\Going Home
The 3 Keys-We 3 Keys 2023-11 Something Nice
Jeff Andrew Simpson-In a Midnight Moon-12 Yeah! 2004
The Jazz Crusaders-Happy Again-02 When You're So Far Away 1995


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