2017 in Music Photos

Here is a selection of my year in music photography, leading off with an image from the Chicago Children's Choir that sums up 2017 in general. It's a pretty awesome privilege to be able to do this for a living.  

All photos © copyright 2017 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

2016: Celebrating a Big Year

This was a wild ride of a year. I shot tons of fabulous music. Philip Glass signed my photo of Philip Glass playing Philip Glass.  I covered Kurt Elling in the studio and created his latest batch of publicity portraits. Spektral Quartet's album "Serious Business," which includes my cover photo, was nominated for a Grammy. I sat next to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for 15 seconds. I gazed at the Milky Way from the tiny island of Islesford, Maine. And right in the middle of it all, I presented my jazz photography portfolio at the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria.  Thanks to all of you for being a part of a wonderful 2016! Enjoy this gallery of a few of my favorites. 

In the studio with Kurt Elling

Back in May, Kurt Elling and his band - pianist Stu Mindeman, bassist Clark Sommers, guitarist John McLean, and drummer Kendrick Scott - put down the tracks for "The Beautiful Day," Elling's first Christmas album. I was there to get a behind-the-scenes look, and I managed to avoid tripping over the cables or ruin any takes. Finally, after several months, the album is due out on Friday!

Photos © copyright 2016 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

Midsummer Print Sale! Part 2

This set of architectural studies was done at the Art Institute of Chicago, and displayed for several months in the performance space of Pianoforte Chicago.  Sizes are either 11x14 or 12x12. $75 each, or all 7 prints for the price of 6. All are framed. Free delivery in Chicago. 

Midsummer Print Sale! Part 1

I'm having a print sale!  These high-quality digital prints must go and they'd look stunning on the walls of your home or office.  All images are framed and have been publicly displayed in Chicago. Contact me directly if you're interested. Sizes and prices listed in the captions. Free delivery in Chicago. 

Christmas in May with Kurt Elling

What a thrill to hang with the incomparable Kurt Elling and his band last week. One of the best voices in jazz, a top-rate entertainer, and overall good guy.  He welcomed me into his dressing room at City Winery - fresh off his all-star performance at the White House for International Jazz Day - and let me fire away during two high-flying shows.  I joined Elling and company in the studio a few days later to document some of the recording of their upcoming holiday album.  Pictured: Kurt Elling, vocals; John McLean, guitar; Stu Mindeman, keys; Clark Sommers, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums.  

Photos © copyright 2016 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

Ashley Bryan at Calvin College

Earlier this week, I drove up the coast to Grand Rapids, MI to watch Ashley Bryan give a presentation to a packed hall at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College. He spoke about the African American spirituals that run throughout his books for children, how the spirituals contain themes of positive self image to which all children can identify, and how a child's view of the world can be cultivated in adults. As usual, Ashley jumped from art to history to episodes of his personal story, including his time as a stevedore in the segregated army during the Normandy invasion. He closed with a particularly moving recitation of John Keats's "When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be" before a standing ovation. It's always an honor and a pleasure to be in the presence of this artist, and to see how much joy he finds in the world.

Photos © copyright 2016 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

Spektral Quartet: Serious Business Album Release Party

Congratulations to the Spektral Quartet on throwing one helluva party to celebrate the release of Serious Business! Not every day do I walk into a job to see my photo blown up on the big screen. And it's not just any quartet that can make the audience sit on whoopie cushions in unison. I was honored to be a part of this project, and I cannot recommend this album enough.  Brilliantly recorded and performed, the music explores the concept of humor in classical (whatever that means) music.  Mayne Stage, Chicago, 1.29.16. 

All photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.  

Year in Review: Jazz Photos of 2015

Jazz and photography.  I love them both.  Here are my favorites from the year. 

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Year in Review: Portraits of 2015

Look at all these wonderful people! 

Top, L-R: Bridget Skaggs, Juliet Petrus, Ashley Bryan. Mid, L-R: Lauren Haselberger, Robert Nordling, Alexandra Ganser.  Bottom, L-R: Penelope Turgeon, Sarah Forbes Orwig, Anna Sanders Lee, Charles Thomas. 

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Serious Business with Spektral Quartet

I've followed the Spektral Quartet since I first saw them at the Empty Bottle in 2011 (a string quartet in a punk bar??). I was hooked. I wrote about them. I saw them perform a bunch of times. I came to photograph them in concert. But this is the coolest.  SQ's newest album, "Serious Business," features my cover photo. This is the quartet's fourth album, the first to feature their image, and my second album cover.  "Serious Business" is a disc of new and commissioned work (plus one very old joke) that explores the theme of humor in music. Since the days of "Abbey Road," quartets have been photographed walking to - who knows where? We tried the same thing, but Doyle kept falling. The album is due out in late January 2016, and you can catch the release concerts in Chicago on January 29 and 31.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Fourth Coast Ensemble: November 12, 2015

Throughout my work with the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, I've been introduced to one of Chicago's newest vocal quartets, Fourth Coast Ensemble. I've shot the individual members of 4CE in several master classes and coachings, and it was a pleasure to shoot their performance of music by Lita Grier and Ned Rorem at Ganz Hall with pianist Dana Brown.  Pictured: soprano Karen Ann Baron; mezzo-soprano Bridget Skaggs; tenor Zach Vanderburg; baritone Zach Angus.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 


Three days with the Music Institute of Chicago

In November, I had the great fortune of spending three days on three different campuses of the Music Institute of Chicago. From a roomful of musical toddlers to the New Horizons senior band, there was music from everyone, reminding me of my own days of Suzuki cello.  The enthusiastic students, teachers, MIC staff, and parents gave me a rich and memorable experience. The future of music is in good hands.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

A Great Distance: CD Launch Recital

One of my favorite recitals of 2015 came on November 6 when soprano Juliet Petrus and pianist Lydia Qiu gave the Chicago launch of their debut CD of beautiful and rarely performed Chinese art song.  I was thrilled to have shot the cover (my first album cover!) and additional artwork; check out the original photo. Our collaboration inspired me to do some of my best work of the year.  Juliet and Lydia gave an intimate and eloquent performance that night at PianoForte Chicago. As a bonus, the event featured two galleries of my work: some black-and-white studies of the staircase at the Art Institute where we did the cover shoot, and an exhibit of 15 scenes of Chicago cityscapes and new work from Chinatown. 

You can watch the entire recital here.  And you can buy A Great Distance on Amazon, CDbaby, or itunes.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Contempo Season Opener, October 27, 2015

The 51st season of the University of Chicago's Contempo series opened on October 27, 2015 with a program celebrating its recently retired artistic director, Shulamit Ran. The towering music was given probing and gutsy performances by U of C ensembles-in-residence Pacifica Quartet and eighth blackbird with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley.  New artistic director Marta Ptaszyn'ska joined Ran on stage as longtime colleagues and friends.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved. 

Chicago Jazz: A Photographer's View - Sept 23-Oct 25, 2015

One of the major highlights of 2015 - three of my photos were selected for inclusion in "Chicago Jazz: A Photographer's View" at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts.  My pictures were featured alongside some terrific images from around the city, and I had a chance to meet some photographers I've long admired - Stan Lee, Jasmine Kwon, Mark Sheldon, Farrad Ali, and Jack Siegel.  Many thanks to Bill Michel and the Logan Center for a great show and fun evening.  Below, my images from the Green Mill and performance shots of saxophonist Bernard Scavella and drummer Greg Artry.  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.