It’s always great to make portraits of master musicians and, occasionally, they’re guys I’ve also played gigs with like saxophone master, Jason Mingledorff. If you follow the New Orleans funk scene at all you’ll recognize Jason as a member of John Gros’ Papa Grows Funk. What you may not know is that 1) he’s an incredibly well mannered and gracious guy, and 2) he’s one of the best horn arrangers in the city. “But what’s a ‘horn arranger'”, I hear you ask. The arranger is the person who figures out what melody or harmony lines will fit best into the overall structure and groove of the song. It sounds simple, like you could just look at the song and invent a few lines (one for each horn, like, four lines for a four-piece horn section, etc.) but it’s not simple at all. The lines have to be harmonic with one another. The overall sound of the arrangement should also fit well with the other instrumentation in the band. It requires a really advanced mastery of musical theory (and practice) to accomplish this, and Jason is incredibly good at it. It doesn’t hurt at all that he lives in a city that produced other masters, like the Grand Poobah of Horn Arrangers, Wardell Quezerque. Jason must have been doing his homework for many years because his arrangements are exceptional.
At this shoot I tried to make beautifully lit, classic portraits, as always. But musicians live in a auditory world, not a highly visual one like photographers, so often my biggest challenge is to get them relaxed and try and capture a great expression and satisfying posture. I really have a lot of respect for cats like Jason, especially after hiring them to “sub” in my band, Creole String Beans, when one of our horn players has another commitment. Jason showed up for a recent gig totally prepared and knowing his parts (and you can see a snapshot of our combo with him at the Creole String Beans facebook page here). To see more portraits of exceptional musicians please visit my website, Rick Olivier Photography.