New Orleans, LA.  Cecil McLorin Salvant is a rising star, American jazz vocalist of Haitian/French parents.  Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, she has gone on to record multiple albums to critical acclaim.  Her third album, From One to Love, won the Grammy in 2015 for Best Jazz Vocal Album.  No less an authority than Wynton Marsalis has said of her, ‘You get a singer like this once in a generation or two.’  Her wildly eclectic choices of material on her new album, The Window, makes new magic out of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Visions’ and the West Side Story chestnut ‘Somewhere’. This is what she was performing when I make this photograph earlier this month at Jazz Fest, 2019. See: my website gallery for “New Orleans Jazz Festival” under the “Events” heading for more Fest photos and images from New Orleans.

Salvant began studies in classical piano at age five.  She has said “I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where we listened to all kinds of music.  We listened to Haitian, hip hop, soul, classical jazz, gospel and Cuban music, to name a few.  When you have access to that as a child, it just opens up your world.” 

This image: Professional and press photographers use their stage and press passes to get up close to the musicians at Fest. I’m not a pro, at least I don’t shoot for a living, but in my most humble (photo enthusiast) opinion, this often is a mistake. The exaggerated upwards angle required to work from the press pit and close up distorts the musician’s face, (parallax error), and introduces other unpleasant image distortions. Shooting from further back often means fighting the ushers or other amateurs photographers and briefly blocking the view of hopefully understanding audience members in the front row, but for the best images I prefer the point of view and ‘straight-on’ working angle gained from working back 10′ to 15′ away from the stage, and then zooming in. This means using longer glass or a longer vocal length, as done here with my Sony G-Master, f4 70-200mm tele zoom.

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