Photographer / jazz fan Jessica Levant has been enjoying her twin pleasures for years now — as she says, “idly” taking pictures of her jazz and blues heroes and heroines in the Bay Area (that’s the area in and around San Francisco, California). She’s now collected those photographs — no posing, all taken in performance — into a charming book, SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA JAZZ & BLUSICIANS.
The book is sweet testimony to the wide variety of musical styles and performers working in this area — women and men, youths and veterans, singers and instrumentalists, leaders and side-people. By offering these photographs in pure alphabetical order, Jessica has wisely avoided the question of categorizing or of valuing these musicians. I am pleased to see portraits and biographies of people I know and have heard: Clint Baker, Danny Brown, Waldo Carter, Mike Greensill, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Mehling, Si Perkoff, Rob Reich, Dave Ricketts, Mal Sharpe, John Wiitala . . . as well as people I know by reputation . . . and the larger group of people I look forward to hearing and meeting. Jessica’s color portraits are informal and lively; no stiff poses against a studio backdrop here, and her biographies combine material provided by the artist and her own perceptions.
It’s an entertaining book, and I predict it could start a social trend. Jazz and blues fans like (we’re all fans at heart) to go home with an autograph from our favorite musician, and I can see Bay Area fans competing with one another to collect ALL the autographs in this book. Better hurry: I’ve spotted Jessica at jazz clubs, busily photographing — I hear rumors of a second volume to come.
You can learn more about Jessica and her book here. And when you see a quietly enthusiastic woman with a camera (tactfully not getting in anyone’s way) I encourage you to approach her and ask, “Are you Jessica Levant? May I have your autograph?” I’m fairly sure she will oblige, graciously.
Thanks to Barb Hauser for making the connection, as she always does!
May your happiness increase!