WAYS OF SEEING

Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight. The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe. When in love, the sight of the beloved has a wholeness which no words and no embrace can match: a totality in which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate. Yet this seeing which comes before words, and can never be quite covered by them, is not a question of mechanically reacting to stimuli. We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice. As a result of this act, what we see is brought within our reach – though not necessarily within arm’s reach. To touch something is to situate oneself in relation to it. We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves. Our vision is continually active, continually moving, continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present as we are. An image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced. It is an appearance, or a set of appearances, which has been detached from the place and time in which it first made its appearance and preserved – for a few moments or a few centuries. Every image embodies a way of seeing. Even a photograph. For photographs are not, as is often assumed, a mechanical record. Every time we look at a photograph, we are aware, however slightly, of the photographer selecting that sight from an infinity of other possible sights. This is true even in the most casual family snapshot. The photographer’s way of seeing is reflected in his choice of the subject. The painter’s way of seeing is reconstituted by the marks he makes on the canvas or paper. Yet, although every image embodies a way of seeing, our perception or apprectation of an image depends also upon our own way of seeing. (Berger)

When we look and see the photographs above, many memories are recalled and recollected. The music and the musician assume a recognizable but unusual posture and memory down the Jazz memory lane captured in time and space. The subject may have as well have passed on, but their physical appearances make us remember the music, their acts and soulful renderings. The photographic essays conforms to the adage that Jazz massages the soul as do the pictures create a halo on Jazz and Jazz musicians. The way we see the photos above is what Jazz is and has always been about. It brings back the LPs one has been listening to, the Live performances these Artists engaged in, and sumptuous studio recordings to bear. Seeing the photos not only brings the memories closer and keeps them fresh, it also etches the music in ones consciousness and soulful self at peace and one with nature, the universe, cosmos and they rhythms of all life. The images are encrypted into the musical world and existence that they help us keep the spirit of Jazz alive and continuing throughout time and ages.

All the photos above were taken by Jim Marshall using his Leica M4. He was able to take these photos despite the bulwark of ushers, burly guards, stage managers, and concert impresarios’ efforts to dissuade him from photographing the musicians and he never just took to standing but the stages lip waiting for shots to appear. Most of these pictures were taken in recording studios, rehearsal halls, backstage areas, festival grounds, or home living rooms, and a few of them were of the artists performing on stage. His photos display his uncanny ability to capture the mood, personality and should of an Artist and this translated into stolen moments rarely witnessed by the legions of fans who love and follow Jazz. He was also able to capture and radiate with this informal, friendly intimacy – wherein in the end, they are like family snapshots.

He would crawl through the Big-Bands sections, or capture a tight close-up facial of an artist whilst they were playing. Marshall’s love of hanging out with Jazz musicians provided him with opportunities to photograph them not only informally, out of the spotlight, but also to receive their blessing to shoot them at will in performance. He had a knack for capturing reflective moods. Marshall’s close relationships with the Jazz crowd got him Pictures the like of which no one else could have taken.

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