Jazz Sounds and Sights
At 5 p.m. on Feb. 12, the opening reception for Paul Slaughter’s photography exhibit “Jazz Greats” was just getting started. Located in the Marion Center for Photographic Arts’ lobby, the exhibit shows decades-old photographs of jazz legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Carmen McRae performing with the soul they’re famous for. Slaughter has photographed for huge publications such as Time Magazine and National Geographic and, along the way, has been collecting stunning photographs of inspirational jazz performers. “I’ve had the prints for a while,” says Slaughter. “And [Photography Department Chairman Tony O’Brien] about six weeks ago… approached me to do the show.”
The opening reception was held until 7 p.m. and was immediately followed by a jazz concert organized in collaboration with the Contemporary Music Program Department Chairman Horace Alexander Young. “I wanted to collaborate with the other programs on campus because music doesn’t live on an island,” Young says. “It connects with all the other arts.” Young says he is planning on two other live music events in conjunction with this exhibit: a jazz CD release and quartet performance and a jazz improvisation workshop led by a guest musician. “I cannot reveal the name yet because it’s still in negotiation,” Young says with a smile. “…We’re planning on throwing a wide net in terms of inviting people to come to the campus.”
Indeed this event already seems to have brought in plenty of interest. Junior photography major Rebeca Gonzales says, “I always like going to Marion Center events. It’s always a scene. And they usually have cool stuff here so I check it out.” Photography students may be the main demographic at events such as this, but community members from the Santa Fe area like dropping by as well and the wide halls of the Marion Center were soon full of interested onlookers. Among them was first editor of photography for Rolling Stone, Baron Wolman. “I photographed a lot of the same musicians myself and it’s interesting to see how Paul interprets it compared to how I interpret it,” Wolman says. “…His use of light and shadow is phenomenal. It’s a really good exhibit.”
At 7 p.m., most of the Marion Center crowd had taken seats in the Tipton Hall for the jazz concert. Young took up the saxophone to play alongside other CMP faculty members Robert Muller on piano and Andy Zadrozny on bass. On drums sat freshman CMP major Josh Buchignani. Buchignani has played music his whole life, but drums only for the last seven years. When complimented on his skills, he laughs and says, “Well I’m always practicing, so I hope all that time is worth it.”
The quartet played jazz classics attributed to the legends frozen in photographs in the nearby gallery. The spirit of jazz filled the performance hall and it was impossible to keep from dancing to the smooth sounds even while sitting. The four men on stage seemed to be one unit, completely in sync with each other. As is the nature of jazz, the improvised solos were the star of each song. Every once in awhile during a solo, the soloist would play a series of notes and the others would chuckle, as if sharing a private joke.
The concert went on without a hitch and by the end everyone on and off stage felt the energy and history of jazz they’d been immersed in all night. When asked what inspired these photographs, Slaughter answers, “I love jazz music, I always have, and I love the guys that play it. It’s such a joy being able to do what you love and hear what you love at the same time.” The photography exhibition is open now through April 20 and keep an ear out for future jazz concerts this semester from the CMP Department.