|Despite technology which has suceeded in intervening between the musician
and the listener, a concert is still an event where music is experienced
in a more immediate and elementary way. According to an expert definition,
on stage, in front of an audience - before our eyes (and ears) - the musician
"arranges a series of ephemeral sound events, the duration of which
shapes real time". Of course, this does not say what the effect of
this series of sound events on the listener might be, neither does definition
take into account the interaction between the listener and musician and
its effect on music itself. This is extremely important, as a "single
sound triggers in the listener an endless variety of speculative interpretations
of and identification with what he or she hears". This is particulary
true of jazz, characteristics of which are "incorrect stressesi and
By its very nature, photography appears to be exactly the opposite of music: by means of chemical effects of light, a phtographer permanently steals a moment from a series of ephemeral events. Again, this definition does not say anything about zhe effect on the viewer, but it definitely tells us at least something about the effect which the event has had on the photographer.
This become very clear in the photographic portraits by iga Koritnik, which are far from being "frozen moments". Because of the photographer's careful listening to the "series of ephemeral sound events", in other words because Koritnik loves music, which fills him with a sense of variety and beauty, his portraits do not only present the external image of musicians, but also their interior, their character, their soul even.
The soul is glimpsed in the relentless stare of the eternal avant-gardist Ornette Coleman, in the confident posture of singer Oumou Sangare, in the volcanic eruption of percussionist Tito Puente, in the spiritual peace of saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and in the unstoppable force of drummer Elvin Jones. It is evident in the face and posture of every musician who emerges from the mystical dark of the stage and steps into the rainbow flood lights in order to play or sing especially for us. But Koritnik's photographs do not portray only world-famous celebrities or unsurpassable virtuosos, but also people with the same yearnings, feras and joys as we have. And this is their greatest attraction.
| Koritnik's highly artistic black and white portraits of great jazz
musicians caught in the act of creation are almost as perfect as the music
of their objects - gods and semi-gods of contemporary improvised music
(see list). In his work, Koritnik displays a fresh, innovative and inspired
approach to this special genre of photographic portraiture. Thus, his
specialization in the world of jazz and other forms of improvised music
adds a new and complimentary value to Koritnik's photo portraits.
"Jazz-photography" is as old as jazz. A photographic record even exists of the first "jazzman" down in the deep South: the New Orleans' cornett player Buddy Bolden. We also have photos of Louis Armstrong as a boy in his first band, at the Waif's Home for colored children in New Orleans. From its very beginning, jazz has been thoroughly photo-documented (and audio-documented).
When jazz, with the advent of bebop in the forties, started to be treated as a genuine art form, there was also a shift in the genre of jazz photography which also then developed as an art form.
Indeed, to take a photo portrait of a sweet'n'sleazy band needs a completely different approach to taking a photo of, shall we say, a free jazz legendary musician caught in the act of creation. And that's what Koritnik has been aware of, right from the start.
In his photo opus, Koritnik didn't choose the easiest way and didn't pretend that any technically perfected but otherwise conventionally angled and focused portrait would do. No sir, he preferred to seek and find new approaches to the jazz photography genre that in some way or another discard this genre and, instead, turn his photographs into perfect works of art that function as art even for those observers who aren't familiar with the musicians in the photos.
Koritnik smoothly and wittily delivers non-cliched fractal fragments of the beautiful and fascinating world of music and creation, of manhood and musicianship, and of the fascinating "now" in which we consume his portraits.
Though every photographic art is in some way rather static (since it freezes the visual moment) Koritnik has managed to inject into his work some of the dynamic movement of the captured moment and that synesthetically gives to his portraits a rare, precious and powerful expression of the eternal story of man conquering the universe - first through the medium of music and then through the medium of photography.
Koritnik "plays" his camera together with his hardswinging objects, thus improvising together with the world's greatest musicians, preserving some of their greatest moments on the stage.
Using the famous dilemma of Simone de Beauvoir: "Could a portrait of an evil man be beautiful?", we could ask ourselves: "Could a portrait of the performing jazz legend in his creative act be bad?". And the definitive answer to both (otherwise rhetorical) questions is: no, it couldn't.
It is unquestionable that the skillful and artful Koritnik's opus is a great contribution not only to the photographic documentation of the contemporary jazz scene but to the art of photography as well.
Koritnik aims higher, and with success.
Wishing you a lot of fun and enjoyment, which is waiting for you in the next pages.
Peter Amalietti, jazzologist.