1973 - 1974
In 1973, Dad handed me my first camera. I photographed (airports and grass strips in the western US) from the co-pilot seat of Dad's Stinson single-engine airplane while he wrote his published directory, "Fly-n'-Camp in the Western US". We spent many a summer vacation taking off from the Van Nuys Airport, covering sites from California to Idaho to Colorado.
At 12 years old I started independent trumpet lessons at Baxter Northup, and at 13 years old I entered Madison Jr. High in North Hollywood, CA. I already knew I wanted to be involved in music. Mom had always played the piano beautifully, and her first cousin, Pete DeSantis, had been one of Red Nichols' original Five Copper Pennies. Dad, grandma, and Uncle Jeff all played piano, and Mom took great care to share her unique sensibility, ear and touch with her children and all of her grandchildren.
It was at Madison Jr. High that I began to be fully engaged in music, the band bungalow, and my peers. Most importantly, I was introduced to JAZZ. (Thanks to Mr. Stankiewitz, Gary Pratt, and Carlton MacBeth.)
In those years, when possible, I got to a few gigs and started to take my camera with me. I began noticing jazz activity in the LA area.
In the summer of 1976 I started work at Hollywood Accessories, a quantity repro B&W photo lab that did work for the entertainment industry, individuals and corporate clients. This lab was owned by an elderly couple, Maxine and Lloyd Woolever, who were distant relatives of my family by marriage, thanks grandma! This lab sat right next door to the world-famous hand-made Calicchio Trumpet shop on Willoughby Ave. in Hollywood, Ca.
Dominic Callicchio passed away a couple of years before my 16th birthday. I never got the chance to actually meet him. When I showed up at the shop in the summer of 1978, Dominic's middle daughter, Irma was there, trying to keep the shop, the horn, and the family legacy alive and moving forward.
Irma and I became fast friends, and she and her family played a significant role in my ultimately becoming a commercial photographer. It was through Irma that I even learned there was such a thing, which ultimately led me to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California some years later.
At the age of 16 I really went for it. I had a paper route and a part-time job at a photo lab. I got a Volkswagen, and began a bit of a quest. I spent my meager earnings on film, chemicals, and paper, and started to get out and shoot.
At a time that most of my friends were going to Cheap Trick or Rolling Stone concerts, I was heading out to the local San Fernando Valley jazz clubs to hear and photograph jazz musicians. I wanted to see those folks regularly executing the art of Jazz at such an exquisitely high level. I felt privileged to be there then. Thinking back now, I know I was. I was certainly out of place in a club where 99% of the people were older or much older, and smoking and drinking, sometimes heavily.
In 1979, with the help of a friend who was an usher, I shot the first LA Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. I had gone to school with pianist/composer/arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi's daughter, Monday Mariano in those Jr. High School years, and had spent many hours at Toshiko and Lew Tabackin's home. I couldn't help being impacted by the access and insight into the art, the craft, and the world of music, jazz and beyond.
1980 - 1983
I ended my high school years and began attending California State University at Northridge, (CSUN), actively shooting photographs of local jazz musicians on a regular basis. It was an on-and-off effort, but one I felt was worthwhile, particularly at the level I was able to support it. These years were my most productive shooting the local jazz scene in LA.
I transferred to Pasadena, Art Center College of Design as a full-time photography student. Graduated 1986 with BFA in Photography.
I moved to Portland, Oregon the first time when I was 26. I had a shiny new commercial portfolio of 4x5" color transparencies, and I had a lot of heart. I also believed in my ability as a photographer. Within two years of being in Portland, I began a relationship with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, shooting all of the season program covers and collateral materials while it was under the direction of James DePriest. Later I discovered that Lew Tabackin and James had been childhood friends.
It's 2012. I've been through much as an independent self-employed artist and photographer. An overall successful career has been developed, a divorce has been gone through, two wonderful sons have been raised, an identity crisis has been endured, and through it all I saved these negatives. Their historical value to me has increased exponentially.
Though listing the events of my life may not specifically speak to this theme, my life has always been about love, personal expression, music, and photography. I have always felt strongly that this personal body of photos should be archived for history, but as I move into and beyond the phase of archiving, my goal has broadened.
In March of 2012, I stopped by the CSUN campus to explore the idea of this exhibit. What you see here are the results of my efforts.
I hope these images, along with the memories and spirit they invoke, influence others in much the same way that these great musicians impacted me many years ago when I was a young, innocent teenager from the San Fernando Valley.
I hope you enjoy them.