Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breaking point

Just to be up front, I haven't reached mine. In fact, that's one reason I've ignored this soapbox for some time. My feelings about this subject are in flux.

The way we perceive art, and assign value to the work of artists, is changing so rapidly and dramatically. The network effects of social media, have created a sea-change far beyond anything Shakespeare might have imagined when he delivered those words from the lips of Ariel in The Tempest. The bard could only reach those within the sound of his voice, or the reach of ink on paper, passed hand to hand.

Today, an image of Lizz Wright, captured at the Century Ballroom in Seattle, can mingle (or in this case, tumbl) with her music and the melancholy poetry of a young man who thinks he has reached his breaking point.

I hope the anonymous young man isn't anywhere near broken. Shift happens. Shakespeare would be stunned. But I still feel the relationship between artists and their work should be revealed. He connected this image of Lizz to his feelings, and his feelings to her music - because listening is free - so I'm connecting them to me. I took that. And, actually, I prefer the other image I shared from her performance. But, then, there's another man in picture.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where in the world?

Michael McGoldrick was born in Manchester to Irish parents and, as a child, was quickly caught up in the thriving traditional Irish music scene in the city. And he was good, and quickly moved from the bodhran to whistle and flute and earned numerous All-Irish championships on those instruments while still in his teens. He added uilleann pipes to his kit and soon established himself as one of the world's best players of Irish flute music. But he stretched the boundaries of the genre with his contributions to cross-over bands like Afro-Celt Soundsystem and contemporary Celtic favorites Capercaillie, and outstanding efforts as a leader, like his 2000 release, Fused .

I was pleased to run across this picture, taken at The Triple Door in 2003, on someones Live Space's page, somewhere is Asia. (I don't know whose page, or where in Asia because I can't read it.) It's cool. This person, somewhere in Asia, wants to share their appreciation for this English/Irish man and the Celtic music he plays with a band from Scotland. Nice.

But there is a bit of English - some musician's names, and the word "world" in the post. Just enough to remind me of a pet peeve. The term "world music" has become a lazy reference to music coming outside the mainstream of western pop, jazz, and classical traditions. A naive label which robs the music a measure of respect and orientation, and denies the listener of a sense of awareness of its cultural context.

Some sources go so far as to suggest world music "originates from outside the cultural sphere of Western Europe and the English-speaking nations." But they speak English in England, Ireland, and Scotland. And French, a western European language, is commonly spoken in Mali, Senegal, and other other African nations. And Portuguese is at the heart of Brazilian pop. And at least one person in some unidentified non-Western, predominately non-English-speaking city in Asia, really likes Michael McGoldrick and contemporary Celtic music. Let's celebrate where in the world the music is coming from.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Suspicious Activity?

No. Well, maybe. David King, The Bad Plus drummer, thought the phrase, often inserted in the middle of the airport advisory "please report (insert here) to authorities", an apt title for the band's latest release.

"Dr. Jazz" at The Jazz Clinic thought this composite from a show I shot in 2004 an apt image to insert in his blog entry Two Trios. Oddly, he didn't have much to say about the band's performance. The picture speaks for itself. The "Dr." also didn't mention who took the picture he published in his entry, so I'm taking care of that here.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a hot topic these days, though photography is rarely part of the discussion. There are a number of blogs discussing the pros and cons of the technology. The most nefarious scheme I've heard of was created by Sony BMG. They imbedded a DRM application in some CD's, including (ironically) TBP's Suspicious Activity? that used malware techniques to install and cloak itself in PC system software, sometimes resulting in system crashes and data loss. Mark Russinovich of SystemInternals helped break the story and expose Sony last year. The Bad Plus, to their credit, are good guys and had no prior knowledge of Sony's foul play.

Image © Bruce C Moore

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Down to Earth

Dylan Carlson is a craftsman, a musician, an innovator, and a seeker. And he's a nice man. Over the last four years, through our tangential crafts and shared love of music, he has become my friend.

Dylan is the core of Earth - a founder and, to this day, the only constant member. He and his evolving ensemble established a genre of music cognescenti refer to as "drone metal" or "doom metal". I prefer seemingly oxymoronic phrases such as "aggressive ambient," or "dense minimalism" because they hint at the tension and resolution a listener experiences when giving in to the music.

This image is one of a series I shot at the old 4th Ave location of Seattle's Vera Project. Dylan is free to use them any way and any where. So, I was happy to stumble upon it on Discogs, an open source, user-built database containing information on artists and their recordings.

Image © Bruce C Moore

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No cover, no credit

Imagine seeing performers like Tierney Sutton and Karrin Allyson in a beautiful lodge setting, with no cost for admission. The Lodge at Woodcliff makes that possible for jazz lovers in the Rochester, NY area.

This photo of Tierney, taken at a 2004 Jazz Alley set, only begins to reveal how beautiful she is in performance. Jason Crane - writer, broadcaster, and labor activist - used it to encourage his readers to take advantage of her no-cover show at Woodcliff. I hope the house was packed.

Jason provides a useful service to his readership and his community. His blog is full of information about music, politics, and activism. He is environmentally aware and politically involved. He helps his community keep track of the arts, and he helps workers get organized. Somehow, though, giving photographers credit for their work isn't part of his impressive resume. I only scanned the pictures of musicians on his site, but I couldn't find one with attribution. Clearly, Jason is a good guy. But if he doesn't respect the intellectual property of photographers, who will?

Listen to the The Jason Crane Show or subscribe to the podcasts in the iTunes Music Store.

Image © Bruce C Moore

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Public Radio, not public domain

Public radio keeps jazz on the air. I love them for that. Stations like KPLU and KCSM have filled my life with music rarely heard on commercial airwaves. And now they are available to anyone with a computer and bandwidth. We should support them.

Richard Bona's melliferous bass and angelic voice first drifted into my consciousness on public radio ether. Now, at least one of his CD's is always in "A" rotation in my home. And, he has become one of my favorite photo subjects. The camera just loves him.

Just as music can go anywhere on the Internet, so can images. This picture of Richard, from his 2004 show at Jazz Alley, showed up, anonymously, on a site for KJAZ FM 98.1 in Bermuda (not San Francisco's much love KJAZ 92.7 which went off the air in 1994).

No doubt the DJs in Bermuda back-announce the names of the artists they play. Now, if they'd just share some love with photographers.

Image © Bruce C Moore

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Contributing to the cause

Most photographers are willing to contribute image usage to a good cause - if they are asked. They understand the power of imagery, and look for opportunities to include their work in efforts aligned with their values.

"Passport to the World" appeals to me, even though I didn't know about it. Last year, Lonely Planet hosted musical events featuring a variety of musicians from around the world. This article by Randy Ray on Jambase explains how the concerts are meant to encourage people to get passports and see the world for themselves, experience people and cultures first-hand, and gain a more informed view of our global community.

Karsh Kale, whose picture I took when he performed at Bumbershoot in Seattle, spoke about his participation in last year's three city tour. "For me personally, having the opportunity to travel so much over the past few years, you tend to start feeling like a citizen of the world. You tend to connect - you start to erase borders in your own mind, and that's really healthy for this particular generation."

Perhaps images travel a similar path, becoming "citizens" of the world-wide-web, as they cross the borders of copyright and licensing, and become part of another artist/writer/publisher's stream. I don't know. As a photographer, I still want to be aware of an image's path, to feel good about where it has been, to say "sure, please use my picture."

Image © Bruce C Moore