Thursday, January 20, 2011

A slight tangent: New York Jazz and a Newlywed Couple

Indian Newlyweds 
Tell me this isn't a stunning photograph. Taken by an unremembered photographer in any of a thousand  studios that appeared in Indian bazaars in the early 20th century this gorgeously hand-tinted wedding memento of a freshly married couple was featured in a major photography show last year in London called Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  The show was an eye-opener in that it revealed just how rich the sub-continent's visual art history is.  For so long and for so many South Asia has dominated world consciousness for its cinema magic. Bollywood. Mother India. The Kapoors, Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal

But try to name more than one or two Indian photographers of international repute and one begins to stammer. Raghubir Singh and Dayanita Singh are well established and regarded outside of India.  But surely there are others?  Indeed there are, but so deep is the shadow of Mumbai's moving picture industry and so bedazzled is the West by the its glizty fun, that purveyors of the still image find it hard to get noticed.  Exhibits like Where Three Dreams Cross are therefore important because they surprise while at the same time confirming what we knew had to be so.  

As I've gaped with delight at this photo over the past few days an unexpected word keeps popping  to mind: jazz.  I've tried to think why and I can only say because I sense in the precise, intricate and elegant colouring the same technical precision and elegance that emerges from every jazz jam session. Within a formal set piece there are hundreds of folds and gradients where improvisation and surprise hide.  The bright and varied hues complement each other but appear about to break away into 'too much'. The eye is forced to stay alert and exploratory, just like the ear needs to be to awake to pick up the jazz combo's details. But in the end, the entirety of the piece is perfect.

And so, to help you enjoy this picture and to fill a wee break in your day, evening or night, I attach an exciting piece of jazz called New York Stories.  Some of New York's finest musical artists (Roy Hardgrove, Joshua Redman, Danny Gatton) come together for what feels like a relaxed jam session that  glides and dribbles down some bluesy, rock and even country-esque roads.  The liquid string bending of Gatton on guitar and Hardgrove's fine toned trumpet stand out like the turban and feather of the groom in the picture. Merely the highest points in a high quality frame.

Enjoy both. With or without whiskey.

        Track Listing:
         1. Dolly's Ditty
         2. Wheel within a Wheel
         3. Ice Maidens
         4. Out of Day
         5. Mike the Cat
         6. The Move
         7.  A Clear Thought
        8. 5/4        9. One for Lenny

    Listen here


Z j A k said...

Lovely photo indeed !

ajnabi said...

isn't it? love it.

ajnabi said...

isn't it? love it.