Michael Smith found himself in his usual spot--in the thick of the action--when he shot this amazing jam session of Roosevelt Sykes, B.B. King, Bukka White, George Porter Jr. and Professor Longhair at the 1973 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest.
By Karl Bremer
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest Producer Quint Davis calls Smith “one of the great documenters and great depicters of a unique aspect of American culture. Mike is not just documenting, he’s creating great art.”
But it’s the words of Larry Bannock, Big Chief of the Golden Star Hunters, that would be most likely to bring a smile to Smith’s face.
“Mike Smith wasn’t a cultural pirate,” Bannock says. “He gave back.”
“He used to wire himself with sophisticated stereo equipment and record these parades and funerals.” Listening to those recordings as he worked in the darkroom with Smith’s powerful images “was like a kinetic experience.” The sounds of Smith working his way through the drum section of a jazz funeral, then the horns, shifting this way and that as he finessed his position for the maximum vantage point provide an aural context for these images that should be preserved as well, says Rosenheim.
Smith’s body of work reaches deep into
|Leslie Smith, Michael's daughter,|
helped guide her father's lens at the
2004 Jazz Fest.
Larry Bannock: 'Mike Smith wasn't
a cultural pirate. He gave back.'
A second line parade was held at the Jazz Fest Fairgrounds in 2009 to commemorate Michael Smith and human jukebox guitarist Snooks Eaglin, who passed earlier that year.
Top photo: By Michael P. Smith
Bottom two photos: By Karl Bremer