Listening Camera – A Black and White Memoir of Jazz Moments

The genius of jazz lies in its spontaneity and rebellious spirit; so can a photograph honestly frame this ephemeral music?

As his lens travelled back stage and up-close, between wires and sound-systems and even into private jam sessions – to Philadelphia, New York, Berlin, San Francisco and then closer home to Mumbai and Chennai – Navroze Contractor made this possible.  

Over decades he captured impromptu jazz moments; inevitably constructing a series called ‘Listening Camera.’

The beauty of his photography lies in its rawness, sense of movement and rapture that typifies Jazz. Each photograph becomes a musical tableaux – one can hear Sonny Rollins play the Freedom Suite and Stan Getz’s commendable ‘Cool Jazz.’ As one travels from one image to the next, one piece ends and another begins.

A Keith Jarrett is literally off his seat; lost to the world as he hits a chord on his electric piano; a dashing Louis Banks sits at a desk with his back to the camera;  as his portrait hangs above – creating a surreal duality.

Listening camera becomes an enthralling journey into a past that seems more alive than the present. 

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