If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know by now that I love photography, especially black-and-white works from the New York School between 1936 and 1963. So from time to time I enjoy inviting photographers of jazz images I admire to explain what happened at the precise moment the shutter closed on their subject. Here's photographer Brian McMillen on the story behind his gripping image of Bill Evans above:
"This photo was taken at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival. Bill was appearing with his trio—bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Philly Joe Jones, with guitarist Kenny Burrell as guest. I was in the audience and noticed that there was a pedestal-like platform behind Bill, to his left. I had seen the videographers use it earlier to get a higher angle.
"I wanted a full shot including the keyboard. So I brazenly jumped up there—and I must have been quite obvious to the whole crowd (I was 23 years old). Then I just waited for Bill to move so I could get his visual "thing"—the visual intensity of his expression during the creative process. I also wanted a geometrically pleasing pose and proper lighting, illuminating the pertinent areas. It all had to come together.
"In situations like that, while I'm waiting for a singular moment, my own concentration is total. If the wait lasts a while, it can get exhausting. I wasn't nervous being on the pedestal, but I was aware that I probably wasn't supposed to be there. I think there were a few thousand people in the audience, including the four high school bands I was chaperoning. The concert was held in what I believe is now called Miles Davis Hall. I don't remember the song Bill was playing. No doubt one of the beautiful standards in his book.
"Finally, the moment arrived. I grabbed a couple of shots, and then got off the platform. One of the images was used on the cover of The Last Waltz, an Evans box released by Milestone Records in 2000."