Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘vocal

The Jazz Jam

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Bridget was recently a featured artist at a weekly Jazz Jam here in San Francisco! It was pretty exciting for her to be able to sing for about half an hour straight with a very talented band.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G | 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G | 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800

Each of us has our own creative passions. For me for course, it’s visual art through photography. Bridget’s creative outlet is music. She studied musicology and jazz vocal performance in college, and now enjoys writing her own music as well as jamming with other jazz artists.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600

Jazz is a fascinating art form. There’s a lot of improvisation involved, and yet each band member cooperates to ensure harmony. If you watch carefully, you can see the band members communicate with one another. Sometimes, it’s a simple nod to another player, letting him know he’s up for his solo. Other times, it’s a hand signal or some other cue.

The beauty of a jazz ensemble is that a good band doesn’t necessarily need to rehearse beforehand. In this case, Bridget simply handed the band a set of charts that let them know what chords are involved in the piece. Seconds before they’d start a song, she’d snap her fingers and count her desired tempo, and they’d just go.  No rehearsal, completely impromptu. It was amazing.

It’s always fascinating to see her work with a band. As a jazz vocalist, you don’t simply sing while the band follows your lead. You’re just another instrument in the ensemble. When jamming on the fly, you have to be aware of what’s happening within the band at every moment, and know how to communicate with the members during the song in order to execute certain portions of the piece at the right time. Bridget is completely in her element in this regard…I always find myself thinking “how in the world does she know what to do!!!?”


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G | 1/40 sec, f/1.4, ISO 5000


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 800

It was a beautiful performance. Bridget sings a lot at home, but you can really see her passion ignite when she’s on stage with other Jazz musicians. Couldn’t be more proud =)

Written by Jonathan

May 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

A Night at the Jazz Cafe in Berkeley

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[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/25 second ISO800]

This happened a little while ago, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to post about another of my wife’s recent performances. She spent some time this year training at the Jazz School in Berkeley, California. The training included a performance at the school’s Jazz Cafe, where she had the opportunity to put on a show in front of a full house, together with three very talented instrumentalists.

I roamed around with my latte in one hand and camera in the other, snapping away as the performance continued:

[ Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/2.8 1/40 sec ISO1600]

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/50 sec ISO1600 ]

[ Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2 1/160 sec ISO1600 ]

Bridget sang two beautiful jazz pieces!

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/60 sec ISO800]

Some other people sang too, but I didn’t come for them ;)

[ Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/2.8 1/30 sec ISO1600]

The crowd actually goes way farther back than I’ve shown here. It was packed inside! Many in the audience were friends and family that showed up to support Bridget’s portion of the performances.

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/20 sec ISO800]

I’m always all for my wife pursuing her love of music whenever she can. I know that in photography, you gotta keep shooting to keep improving, and  it’s important spend as much time as you can taking the kind of photographs that you enjoy taking in order to keep your passion for the craft alive. Same thing in the art of music it seems. Bridget seems to get better and better with every performance. One thing is for sure: wherever and whenever she performs, I’ll be right there with her, camera in hand.

Jazz at Epicenter Cafe

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If you live in San Francisco and love Jazz, great coffee, good food, and a nice selection of beer and wine, you must check out Epicenter Cafe. It’s a great place to kick back with your laptop and browse the web, get some studying done, or just hang out with friends.

The interior has a very “South of Market” industrial look to it, with modern furniture and art, waxed concrete flooring as well as exposed concrete pillars, electrical conduits, plumbing and air ducts.  During the day, tons of light floods in through large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

The live music, however, is the most important element! Every Sunday evening, the cafe hosts a “Jazz Jam,” which is basically the Jazz version of an open mic.  If you can play/sing Jazz and read a lead sheet, you’re free to perform. There was a great group there yesterday evening:

Chris (on trumpet you see below) is a friend of mine. We met with a bunch of other friends to see him jam with the other instrumentalists.

My wife also brought a few charts along and performed two pieces. I decided to video record the performances instead of taking stills. Used my D300s fitted with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC for the two clips. I must say, Vibration Control makes a huge difference in steadiness when recording video while hand-holding a DSLR. Check out the clips below!

The first clip is her second performance, where she sang “On Green Dolphin Street.” Video was recorded in 720p resolution. The second clip is the song “September in the Rain,” accidentally recorded in a lower resolution. Oh well!

Jazz jam sessions are rare in San Francisco, so my wife and I were really excited about this opportunity. The band was thrilled with her performance (as was I), and invited her back with specific requests as well. Good job, honey. Truly beautiful!