Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Herb Wise Photographed Legendary Musicians

People You’d Like To Know: Legendary Musicians Photographed
By Herb Wise
Omnibus Press 2010

Herb Wise was an editor for Oak Publications who published Sing out as well as various books on folk and blues (Samuel Charters’ The Bluesman was originally published by Oak), when photographer David Gahr took him outside gave him a camera and had him start shooting pictures. While his initial efforts were not productive, it led to him becoming a fixture with his camera at festivals and concerts throughout North America documenting a wide spectrum of music, focusing on folk, bluegrass with some blues, country and jazz mixed in from Mariposa in Toronto, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the American Folk Life Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

This is a coffee table sized volume of his photos. There is an amiable quality to many of these which are often informal portraits although there are some very fine performance images included. Graham Vickers includes brief descriptions of the artists depicted and sometimes the circumstances the photos were made of. Striking images of Richard Havens, Sam Chatmon, Jaco Pastorious, Professor Longhair (one great picture with reflections showing in his sunglasses) , Chuck Berry, Charles Mingus, Saul Broudy, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Frank Zappa, Jackson Browne (great portrait), Sonny Terry (reclining against a trailer), Joan Baez & Kris Kristofferson, Joe Zawinul, Arlo Guthrie, Ray Charles, Doc Watson, Leon Redbone, Stephane Grappelli, Bob Dylan with the Band, an early Taj Mahal and Koko Taylor sitting in front of her van at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival. Its a pretty diverse group of images, and some are devoted to showing dancers at the festival while a young Rosanna Arquette is seen at the 1971 Philadelphia Folk Festival. Blue Lu Barker and Danny Barker are seen in their living room, while Roosevelt Sykes is backstage at the 1981 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.The pictures mostly come from the sixties and seventies. 

The reproduction (with a slight sepia tint) seems quite satisfactory and there is a wealth of performers captured here, some famous, others less so. People You’d Like To Know is a book you might skim through when you first get it and return to look at the images again and again. It is reasonably priced with a list price of $34.95, should be reasonably easy to fine and makes a nice addition to one’s collection of music photography books.

This review originally appeared in the September 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 329).  I received a review copy from a publicist. Needless to say this would make a great holiday gift for music lovers.

No comments: