I spent a magnificent Friday night shooting the drummer Robert Jospe and his fine band Inner Rhythm. (Shooting with a camera, I hasten to add.) When Jos asked me to photograph the band's sound check and concert at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall, in Charlottesville, Virginia, I was happy to say "Yes." What better way to end a grueling week? After all, I've been a fan of the band's funky blend of jazz, Latin rhythms, R&B, and Afropop for over a decade.
Robert Jospe, 4 February 2011. (All photos copyright John Edwin Mason, 2011. Click directly on any of the images to see larger versions.)
Jos is probably the most inventive drummer I've ever heard. Always surprising, always pushing himself creatively. Don't get me wrong -- he's got a distinct style. When he plays, you know it's him. But you also know that you're not going to be bored.
Jeff Decker and Heather Maxwell, 4 February 2011.
If you're thinking that Jeff Decker is a jazz photographer's dream, you're right. I've shot him many times, and it never gets old. His intensity is right there on the surface. You see it before you hear it.
Heather Maxwell, playing a kamalen n'goni, 4 February 2011.
When Heather Maxwell joined Inner Rhythm, she brought an encyclopedia's worth of musical knowledge -- gospel, R&B, jazz standards, and, especially, a deep understanding of West African music. She's spent a lot of time in Africa, learning from and playing with the greats.
Robert Jospe, 4 February 2011.
Jos lays down a badass groove.
Bob Hallahan and Randall Pharr, 4 February 2011.
John D'earth, 4 February 2011.
Without a doubt, John D'earth is my favorite trumpeter. And he has been for about 15 years, ever since I moved to Charlottesville and found this New York City refugee playing in a variety of clubs and concert halls, composing, and leading the amazing University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble. He's not a member of the band, but he dropped by to sit in for a couple numbers.
Jeff Decker, Robert Jospe, and Randall Pharr, 4 February 2011.
If you live anywhere near Charlottesville, you'll want to be around on February 26th, when Jos, Jeff, and the other members of the Free Bridge Jazz Quintet (the faculty jazz group at the University of Virginia) join the university's student jazz ensemble for the premiere of John D'earth's new composition, Green Chemistry. You can find out more about the concert, here.