David Wild’s ‘photomemento’ tells an Englishman’s story lived to a soundtrack of jazz. At its heart are photographs made during a two-year stay in America in the mid-1960s, on a passage through New York, Chicago, Detroit, St Louis, New Orleans. These pictures, in turn, formed the basis of photomontages. Jazzpaths is a partial document of the jazz scene of that time, mixing remarkable pictures of musicians with biting images of life on the streets.
The Big Apple
Going to Chicago
Back in St Louis
Bringing it all back home
Wild drops in splashes of violent colour (gunshots in the night, a knife under a pillow) and documentary evidence (news cuttings, billboard graphics) but these are left unresolved, like the hallucinatory clues in Antonioni’s film ‘Blow-Up’. Sometimes the photos and collages interrupt in the same way: Wild isn’t trying to explain or proselytise, but he leaves some telling impressions in our path.
And in these aspects, ‘Jazzpaths’ feels more like an artefact from the Modernist mid-1960s than a contemporary book, and it ends abruptly when Wild returns to a ‘dinky’ Britain intoxicated by ‘Sgt Pepper’s’, and his friend Peter Cook calls him to tell him that Coltrane has died. ’Jazzpaths’’ awkward yet sustained poetic mood gives the work a special place in the history of jazz photography.
John L. Walters, Eye blog, 19 April 2012: here