Like the accomplished musicians they have documented for many years, local photographers Edie Ellis, Marianne Mangold and Will Wallace combine a technical mastery of their "instrument," along with an instinctive feel for the emotional essence of the moment, to transform the heart and soul of music into a powerful visual document.
"Jazz, Blues and Dues," currently on display at the Monterey Conference Center in downtown Monterey, captures all the emotion and physical intensity of live music performances; and serves as a veritable who''s who of the jazz, blues and rock musicians who have graced the Monterey Jazz Festival and other Central Coast music venues over the past decades.
Among the venerable names on display are Milt Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington and Chick Corea, as well as a host of younger musicians like David Sanborn, Don Byron and Larry Carlton.
For photojournalist and fine-art photographer Marianne Mangold, whose ongoing passion is documenting the Mayan cultures of Central America, performance photography is most successful when it forges an emotional connection between the music and the viewer.
"For me [performance] photography is not just about artistic expression but a philosophy that focuses on what we call ''real'' and captures it," says Mangold. "It''s all about balance, about staying open and receptive to the energy coming from the musician, and using feelings as a receptor to allow creative energy to flow. It''s a linked communication whose origin begins with the musicians'' passion for expression."
Having photographed blues and jazz musicians for the last 11 years, Edie Ellis considers herself a combination of hunter and documentarian who tries to capture that elusive gesture that serves as the history of the performance.
"Most of the time I try to capture what''s happening at the moment, trying to get the musicians'' moods to keep historically," says Ellis. "The challenge is waiting for the musician to get into position, and I''m constantly looking, waiting and hoping. A lot of it is chance and you throw away a lot of work."
Among Ellis'' best images are portraits of saxophonist Sonny Rollins caught in a state of pure exaltation, a very soulful George Benson, guitarist Jim Hall wielding his instrument like a royal scepter, and keyboardist Patrice Rushen, her glowing red face eerily contrasted with the black and white keys of her keyboard.
For Will Wallace, the grand master of local music photographers, the key to successful performance photography is having an intimate knowledge of both the music being performed, and the performers themselves.
"My goal is to try to capture the intensity of the music and performer, and relate that to the people who look at the photos later," says Wallace, who has served as official photographer for the Monterey Jazz Festival several times over the years. "The whole thing is about feeling. I used to be hung up on the fine print but what I want is that feeling.
"The key is knowing the musicians," adds Wallace. "I know most of them and they don''t mind my taking photographs. They know I won''t get in the way, that I''ll be cool about it and that the finished product won''t put them in a bad light. Duke Ellington said, ''Music is my mistress.'' Well, jazz photography is my mistress."
"Jazz, Blues and Dues," can be viewed at the Alvarado Gallery, Monterey Conference Center, One Portola Plaza, Monterey, through Oct. 27. Gallery hours: Mon.-Fri., 9am-4:30pm.
Carl Cherry Center for the Arts "The Language of the Body." Group exhibit surveying contemporary themes and techniques in figure painting. Guadalupe Street and 4th Avenue, Carmel. 624-7491. Reception: 9/18, 5pm. Through: 10/11.
Coffee House Gallery "The Artwork of Miles Davis." Never-before-shown originals and graphics created by one of the greatest names in the history of jazz. Shown for three days (Friday-Sunday) at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey. Through: 9/20.
Back Porch Fabrics "Quilts and Paintings." Works by Wilda Northrop. 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4453. Through: 10/15.
Bytes Internet Cafe "The Invisible World." Photographs by Helene Constant. 403 Calle Principal, Monterey. 372-2987. Through: 9/30.
Carmel Art Association "Fin de Siecle." Mixed media on paper by Robert Bradshaw. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 10/7.
Carmel Art Association "European Travels." Oil paintings of scenes from Italy, England, France, Switzerland and Germany. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 10/7.
Carmel Art Association "Gallery Showcase." Oil paintings by Reed Farrington, Brenda Morrison, Philip Thorngate and sculptures by Ken Wiese. Dolores between 5th and 6th, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 10/7.
Chapman Gallery & Frame Shop Plein air style oil paintings by Ron Elstad. 7th Avenue, between San Carlos and Mission streets, Carmel. 626-1766. Through: 10/15.
Forest Hill Manor Vest Pocket Gallery "Artistry in Wood Carving." 551 Gibson Ave., Pacific Grove. 649-5215. Through: 9/30.
Henry Miller Library "Sculpture ''98." Sculptural works by 21 members of the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group. Highway 1, Big Sur. 667-2574. Through: 11/5.
Monterey College of Law Photographs by Jerry Bell. 404 Franklin St., Monterey. 659-5310. Through: 11/13.
Pacific Grove Art Center "Artists Studio Tour ''98." Works by local members of Artists Equity who will participate in the annual studio tour on 9/26-27; "The Unknown Sculptor," works by Dick Iverson; "The Silk Road," photographs by Meredith Mullin. 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 9/27.
Pajaro Valley Gallery "Harvest Home: Farm Works by Local Women Artists." Works "that have something to say about this fertile valley from ancient times to the present" by 12 women artists. 37 Sudden St., Watsonville. 723-3062. Through: 10/17.
Parking Lot Gallery "Parked in the Past." An assemblage resembling a car, created from 213 items on loan from Last Chance Mercantile. Parking lot in front of WWII Hospital, 3rd Street, California State University Monterey Bay. 373-0823. Through: 10/10.
Santa Catalina School Gallery "South Mountain/North Mountain." Landscape scrolls by Joan Larkey. 1500 Mark Thomas Dr., Monterey. 655-9350. Through: 10/18.
Searle Art "2D and Not 2D." Works by the Monterey Peninsula College Art Club. 639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 373-0126. Through: 10/2.
Valley Art Gallery "Color Your Life." Watercolors by Grace Bryan. 218 Main St., Salinas. 455-1706. Through: 9/26.
Vehicle Gallery "Otterly Motor Sport Surrealistic Paintings." Photographs and paintings by Lola Disco Volante and Spyder McLaren. Also, "Autorotica," photographs by Alan Olmsted. In the Camera Exchange, 551 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 373-0448, 646-0611. Through: 9/26.
Venture Art Gallery Watercolors by Bobie Osterdock. 260 Alvarado Mall, in the DoubleTree Hotel, Monterey. 372-6279. Through: 9/30.
Weston Gallery "Italy: In the Shadow of Time." Photographs by Linda Butler. 6th Avenue, between Dolores and Lincoln streets, Carmel. 624-7190. Through: 10/26.
Zantman Art Galleries "Souvenirs de France." Recent paintings by Duane Alt. 6th Avenue and Mission Street, Carmel. 624-8314. Through: 10/9.