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Ziga Koritnik: Cloud Arrangers

Nenad Georgievski By

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Cloud Arrangers
Ziga Koritnik
376 Pages
ISBN: 978-961-288-626-4
Drustvo Pega
2019

Most of the music we experience today is heard removed from the presence of the performers. That is the result of the invention of the phonograph and every other invention to date following in its footsteps. The invention of this apparatus has had the same effect as the printing press had on literature i.e., it allowed numerous people who otherwise wouldn't have any or little access, to have access to music and make it a crucial part of their everyday lives. But the inventions like the radio or the phonogram have had the effect of removing the performer from the music thus depriving the music of its visual elements that are so vital to how we perceive the music. The photograph has always had that power to capture the magic of music performance and provide a visual identity for the music that people loved to hear. For those reasons, it has been an inexplicable part of the jazz culture as long as this music exists. And on top of that, a good photograph has to tell its story musically as visually.

Renowned photographer Ziga Koritnik is one of those people whose photographs of jazz artists have an instant impact upon the viewer and which are able to tell the story both ways. His photographs can easily be described in the same manner as photographer William Claxton has defined his photography as "jazz for the eyes" where one has to listen with his eyes as well. And after years of excellent work, he has compiled many of his fantastic photographs in this beautifully crafted large coffee table book titled as Cloud Arrangers that represents a retrospective of Koritnik's entire career to date.

Designed by Marek Wajda, Cloud Arrangers is an exquisite and lavish collection of 278 of Koritnik's photographs that were taken in a period of more than 3 decades at various locations in Europe and North America apart from concerts and jazz festivals. Primarily a black and white shooter, Koritnik's images are striking. What is characteristic for Koritnik is his ability to predict the moment before it happens. He is a hunter for those special moments that happen on the stage, the spark and the magic that makes performances and people so memorable. This exceptional volume is a who's who of jazz's wider spectrum that have crossed paths with him. Unsurprisingly broad, the book starts with his first photograph taken of Miles Davis during his performance in Belgrade in 1986 (that also adorns the cover of the Slovenian edition of Miles' Autobiography) and then features a plethora of live performances, portraits, backstage moments, post-performance moments, people's living rooms, outtakes, unseen photographs. But his choice of artists equally belongs to the wider spectrum of jazz and improvised avant music and beyond with artists such as Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, Matthew Shipp, Mats Gustafsson, Bill Frisell, John McLaughlin (to name but only a few) and also includes photographs of world music artists such as singer Mariza, kora player Toumani Diabate, singer Baaba Mal, saxophonist Femi Kuti or artists such as BB King, Ray Charles or Tom Waits, whose photograph closes the book.

Photography may not be able to bring back what has passed but for some, it can provide a way to explore deeply rooted emotions and memories. Many of these photographs were taken at the Skopje Jazz Festival where Ziga has been the festival's official photographer since mid-'90s. It was the festival's general manager, Oliver Belopeta, a professional photographer himself and an art aficionado, who felt enamored by his photographs that he decided to hire him, and he has been working there ever since. Each year, one would witness Koritnik's silhouette taking photographs from various corners of the halls and rooms where the festival had been organized over the years and his appearance and photographs have become inseparable from the festival's identity. His photographs have been previously featured in the festival's two exclusive books with photographs that were used to mark its 20th and 30th anniversaries including the festival's promo material such as its exclusive calendars.

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