Jason Robinson, Seesaw Ensemble, OGDS11 Translation Has Failed, 1/18-19/11

I’m combining two nights’ worth of music into one post, since the headliner was the same both nights. On Tuesday I headed deep into the East Village in a sketchy part of town to Space 4 Art, a nice studio with a couple gallery rooms.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Jason Robinson at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-001

Jason Robinson started the show with a set of solo sax.  Yes, he’s playing under an upside down boxing ring made of saran wrap. It’s art.

Jason Robinson at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-004

I can’t imagine listening to half an hour of this with any other saxophonist but Jason. He can play a varied set of tunes on his instrument that keep the listener engaged. He has a CD of solo sax out right now, you should check it out.

Jason Robinson at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-002 

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Hearing the same band twice in two nights is not something I normally do. But, hearing the same band improvise a new set two nights in a row, now that is something worth checking out.

Seesaw Ensemble at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-001

Not only was Seesaw Ensemble playing with Philly’s free-jazz icon Elliot Levin on sax and flute, but they’d be playing the next night too.

Seesaw Ensemble at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-003

Seesaw Ensemble at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-005

I’ve talked a bit about free jazz before. It’s a genre that requires maximum focus and attention from both the audience and performer. No one knows what will happen next.

Seesaw Ensemble at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-008

When I’m shooting a band, I try to think like an improviser. I might not
have any idea about the lighting, obstacles around the stage, and
performer positions so I’m constantly adjusting to the environment. I’m
looking for new angles, new forms, and lines. The things that a bass
player has to do to fulfill his role are the same things that a
photographer does to fulfill his. Stay out of the way and make everyone
else sound better. Whether our hands wield an axe or a Canon, it doesn’t
make much of a difference. It’s the eyes and ears of the person holding
it that make it something special.

Seesaw Ensemble at Space 4 Art 11811 © Michael Klayman-009

The next night they headlined at the Tin Can Alehouse.

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-001

Preston Swirnoff joined the acoustic group this time. I love the colors at Tin Can where the contrast between hot and cold lights is delicious.

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-011

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-014

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-013

Having a chance to hear this group play two nights in a row was a quick way to see how fluid the music can be. It would be hard to give specific examples now that the show was a week ago, but they seemed a bit more fiery and propulsive the second night.

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-009

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-017

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-008

They played an electronic set later on that I wasn’t much into. It reminds me that Ornette Coleman did a double CD years ago called In All Languages that did the same acoustic/electric split session. His late 50’s band with Don Cherry and Charlie Haden played together as if they’d never spent any time apart. When his then-current Prime Time band played the same tunes with their crazy multiple guitars and basses, they couldn’t hear each other as well and it lost its intimacy.

Seesaw Ensemble at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-004

If you missed the shows but want to hear this band, they have an excellent CD out, which just so happens to have cover art by four of the most interesing photographers around.

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OGDS11 Translation Has Failed at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-004

Another all-improvised set came from the openers of the night, Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed.

OGDS11 Translation Has Failed at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-005

If the name isn’t a clue that this is weird music, then the mixup of genres, styles, and crazy bass/DJ effects give it away. 

OGDS11 Translation Has Failed at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-003

There were some brief spoken word interludes as well. I think the words were used as more of a sonic texture than actual poetry.

OGDS11 Translation Has Failed at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-006

This makes me want to start a two bass band even more.

OGDS11 Translation Has Failed at Tin Can 11911 © Michael Klayman-007

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All Images Copyright © Michael Klayman 2008-2011, All Rights Reserved.
Please ask for permission before downloading or linking to them.

A quick note on using my photos

I don’t usually talk about this kind of thing, but it’s been coming up more often and I’d like to address what you can expect of me, and what I expect of you.

You NEVER have to worry
about me posting something here that you wouldn’t want made public. If
there’s a photo of yourself you don’t like, either on the blog or the
full gallery, just ask me and I’ll take it down. If you say something
“gossip worthy” or something secret, I’m not going to print it here
because I’m not a gossip and it’s just not relevant to the photos. Besides, I’m a Scorpio. We know how to keep a secret.

I don’t do this for a living. Most of the bands I shoot are for my own personal enjoyment. No one is entitled to use my photos without my permission. I don’t get paid very often, and usually pay the cover to get in and my own drinks. I make all these photos available for free because I like to. On the very rare occasion that someone asks if they can get a hi-res/no watermark version, I charge a nominal fee to cover some of my costs.

If you think that you deserve a hi-res copy just because you’re in the photo, you’re wrong. It’s my photo, not yours. I OWN THE COPYRIGHT the moment I click the shutter. I don’t give away hi-res versions just because you’d like to use it for a poster or flier. In a way, everything I shoot is on speculation that someone will want to buy it at some point. Usually, that’s the person in the shot.

I’ve worked hard to acquire the skills necessary to make an image that you consider worth the effort of removing my watermark. Now please don’t. If you crop off my watermark and post the photo, I consider that STEALING. If you black out my watermark, that’s STEALING. I’ll bet you wouldn’t want me using one of your songs on the front page of my website without your permission, right?

Please use my photos in their ORIGINAL CONDITION for email and social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. I love to see bands post my shots as long as the whole shot is visible, watermark and all.

Please DON’T use my watermarked photos for fliers, posters, postcards, personal or band websites without checking with me first. When in doubt, ask me. If I ask you for money, please don’t get upset. Consider it the cheapest pro-level photo shoot you ever booked.

Sorry if I sound mean, but I get sad when both friends and strangers use my work without asking me first.

Zillion Happy Volts Group Shoot at Black Box, 1/14/11

Zillion Happy Zolts Group Shoot at Black Box 11411 © Michael Klayman-013

Still sick, I took enough Dayquil to get myself out of the house and down to Black Box for a scheduled group shoot with Zillion Happy Volts. Here’s a couple.

Zillion Happy Zolts Group Shoot at Black Box 11411 © Michael Klayman-008

I was going to throw out this next one, but then decided to play around with it at the last second. What do you think, cheesy?

Zillion Happy Zolts Group Shoot at Black Box 11411 © Michael Klayman-009

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All Images Copyright © Michael Klayman 2008-2011, All Rights Reserved.
Please ask for permission before downloading or linking to them.

The Long and Short Of It Group Shoot, 1/7/11

The Long and Short Of It Group Shoot 10711 © Michael Klayman-003

This was my second attempt at doing a group shot for The Long and Short Of It.The first time yielded less than stellar results, so I scrapped those shots. I tried doing something different this time, a long exposure group shot indoors. And not a big room indoors, I put them in the back hallway between the ladies room and the office. I had to keep an eye on my camera so no one would come around the corner and bash right into it. There were some close calls.

I was using a 3 flash-pop scheme. Two pops from the front and one behind them for background separation. Since I couldn’t just go around them in this tight hallway, I had to run the long way around through the club to light the oppositee side every time. I must have looked like an idiot.

The Long and Short Of It Group Shoot 10711 © Michael Klayman-001

But totally worth it.

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All Images Copyright © Michael Klayman 2008-2011, All Rights Reserved.
Please ask for permission before downloading or linking to them.

The Long and Short of It, Grand Tarantula, Drugs Wars, Scales at Casbah, 1/7/11

I’m really sick, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t regale you with my lyrical prose. This show happened last week at the Casbah. Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Scales:

Scales at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-006

Fkenal phenom Eric Oliver on the drums.

Scales at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-005

Scales at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-011

Grand Tarantula:

Grand Tarantula at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-001

Grand Tarantula at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-003

Drug Wars in the Atari Lounge (I love the band name):

Drug Wars at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-001

Drug Wars at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-009

This dude danced epilipticly throughout the entire night. He got his money’s worth of enjoyment, and I salute him for that.

Drug Wars at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-011

I bumped into the Drug War’s lead singer a couple times during the set as he walked into me, and then again at the end of the night in the bathroom. We traded cards in the bathroom after washing our hands, which is probably the least interesting thing that’s ever been exchanged in there.

Drug Wars at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-007

Retox played too, but there were enough photographers in the pit that there was no point in shooting. My friend Stephanie Null got some good video though. Gabe Serbian is a monster behind the drums.

The Long and Short of It:

The Long and Short of It at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-001

The Long and Short of It at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-006

Friends at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-002

The Long and Short of It at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-012

The Long and Short of It at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-002

The Long and Short of It at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-004

and two big Happy Birthdays to Brian and Christina!

Friends at Casbah 10711 © Michael Klayman-003

Now go out and enjoy some fantastic weather and lovely music this weekend. Because I can’t.

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All Images Copyright © Michael Klayman 2008-2011, All Rights Reserved.
Please ask for permission before downloading or linking to them.

Passengers, Moyindau, Slumgum at Kava Lounge, 1/4/11

I like the Kava Lounge. It looks like an opium den and they have interesting drinks and bands. They’re not afraid of putting on an esoteric jazz night.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Passengers took the stage first, odd since they were the only locals and should have been anchoring the night (and most of the audience).

Passengers at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-001

Using a Tortoise-like instrumental setup, they read their way through intricate  changes, adjusting a note here and there to create new textures and voicings. The music draws from the aforementioned Tortoise at times, but when they got into a groove they channeled 70s Miles funk.

Passengers at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-005

This was my first time seeing Nathan play vibes instead of drums. He’s melodic either way.

Passengers at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-002

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Moyindau is not an easy name to pronounce or remember. The music is the same way. It’s almost a different language.

Moyindau at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-005

Switching out the traditional bass player for a cellist has a profound effect on the direction of the music. There is no room for swing in classical music, so that pulse is replaced by cerebral forms and solo interludes. I had a hard time wrapping my head around it, since it was so different.

Moyindau at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-004

Moyindau at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-002

The drummer was quite kinetic, even in the places where the music lumbered along a bit.

Moyindau at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-009

I’m sure most of the audiences they play for have a similar reaction. For me, the highlight of the set came when I spied a friend of mine across the room.

Moyindau at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-006

If you know this man, you know he’s a mainstay on the jazz scene, and quite mysterious. I like this shot because it captures everything about him in portrait form.

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If only Slumgum had come on second and I had fresher ears to lend them.

Slumgum at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-001

In this case, technical prowess is sublimated into passionate solos and telepathic signals among the members. One person would turn in one direction, and everyone else would follow.

Slumgum at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-006

Slumgum at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-002

This music is something special, and I recommend downloading some tracks from their website. I’ll be giving them a second listen later today.

Slumgum at Kava Lounge 10411 © Michael Klayman-010

Passengers Group Shoot at Kava Lounge, 1/4/11

I’m still reeling from yesterday’s news of Justin Jay’s sudden passing, but he was a great drummer who knew that, above all, the beat must go on. So I’m pounding out these next couple blog posts for you. 

Passengers Group Shoot 10411 © Michael Klayman-002

Speaking of great drummers, Nathan Hubbard debuted a new math-jazz band at the Kava Lounge earlier this week, called Passengers. The show post will be up later, but I used the band as guinea pigs for my new LightSphere flash. They were very patient with me and gave me a couple different compositions. Having a softer light works well to smooth skin and shadows. The shot above is heavily edited of course, but this light does an even better job in more traditional B&W.

Passengers Group Shoot 10411 © Michael Klayman-001

The narrow sidewalk kept me from getting back as far as I would have liked, so tried compositions that kept them close together to avoid huge differences in their relative size, as seen in the first photo. After this shoot, I had the brilliant idea to start using my shutter release on bulb mode to keep the shutter open for as long it it takes for me to pop as many flashes as I want. Most of my shots from this session didn’t have the third backlight in them because it took longer than 30 seconds to recycle the flash three times. I won’t have that problem again.

RIP Justin Jay, 1/9/11

Hialeah at Soda Bar 41410 © Michael Klayman-005

Goodbye, Justin. It’s hard to believe you’re gone, since I just saw you a couple weeks ago. You were your same old self- brutally honest but funny too. I enjoyed talking to you about all kinds of things, and it was always a blast to try and match wits with you,you could turn a phrase and fire back a retort as fast as me, without sounding like as big a prick. We would complain about guitarists to each other, and how we both hated people who are nothing but talk. Just like me, you knew that coolness comes from within, no matter how you dress or look.

 Even though you don’t like California wines, I know you would have found some good ones on that winetasting trip to Temecula that we never ended up actually doing.

The last good conversation we had was when we ran into each other at Anthology a month ago, when The Bad Plus played. You were extolling the virtues of gin and made me last the good stuff. You don’t cheap out on the finer things in life. After the show, we went to the El CaminoJazz Jam because we were still wired from the music, and I felt like I had a compatriot in the appreciation of good music, regardless of style.

Hialeah was the first band I shot at the Casbah, too. A true local music fan, you could always be found by the front of the stage, listening to the opening acts. Even for the bands that only had two people paying attention- you listening and me shooting. Then after the set, we’d discuss and your insights would be so much better than mine.

I wish we’d gotten to know each other better and you were taken way too early. But, I guess heaven needs a kick ass drummer more than we need a kick ass friend.

Black Box Studios 121810 © Michael Klayman-019

Gregory Page at Lestats, 1/1/11

Seeing a San Diego legend perform on the stage that bears his name- that just seems like a perfect way to ring in the new year.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-020

A Gregory Page show is an event, complete with a line to get into Lestats. The room packed in with longtime fans and newcomers alike. We were lucky enough to score second row seats, where I could shoot from comfortably.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-010

I was expecting to see a full band tonight, but Mr. Page owns the whole stage all by himself. His music sounds familiar even from the first listen. I’m not usually a fan of solo songwriters, but these aren’t just strummy 3-chord tunes. Mr. Page writes dark and witty songs, both lyrically and musically.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-019

His music has a Film Noir-ish quality, and I tried to highlight that.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-005

 

My challenge to myself was to get several different looks for my images. With a solo songwriter, it’s easy to just take 3 shots and put the camera away. But it’s a new year and I want to work on telling more of a story with my images.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-023

For 2011, my goal is to try and tell more stories through images. Dennis Anderson shot this show too, using a different approach than I do. He shot from further back, using a telephoto lens in high speed bursts. As I’m sure you can tell, I prefer to shoot from the front of the stage, and I try to time each shot. It is these very differences in our techniques and choices that make us unique and interesting to one another. I’m going to work on being a more unique and interesting photographer, and maybe at some point I’ll be able to tell as clever a story as Mr. Page.

Gregory Page at Lestats 10111 © Michael Klayman-014