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W&L Photographer Hinely Unveils Two Exhibitions in Germany

Patrick Hinely, University photographer at Washington and Lee University, has two exhibitions of his work opening in Germany this month that flow from his extracurricular passion—photographing jazz musicians.

The first exhibition is a solo show, from Oct. 24 to Jan. 11, at the prestigious Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, in Darmstadt, Germany, site of the largest repository of historical jazz material in Europe. The show features approximately 30 photographs Hinely took from 1974 through 2012 in Berlin, Warsaw, New York and London, as well as two photographs he shot in Lexington, Virginia (where he lives and works).

Hinely will also participate in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Jazz Festival, one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe. Five distinguished jazz photographers will represent each decade of the festival through their work. Hinely also has a four-page portfolio of his photography in the festival’s magazine. The exhibition will be held from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

For a sample of Hinely’s work, scroll to the end of this story.

This year will mark Hinely’s 26th year photographing the Berlin Jazz Festival. His oldest photograph in the Berlin show is from the first roll of film he shot there in 1986, using a 35-millimeter Leica camera. The newest photograph is a digital image from 2013.

Although Hinely, of the Washington and Lee Class of 1973, began his love of jazz in middle school, it wasn’t until he arrived at W&L that he began his long association with the jazz world. He attended a concert at Virginia Military Institute by a jazz band that later morphed into the American jazz and world-music group called Oregon. “That concert was how I learned to appreciate music as a process and not just as a product,” explained Hinely, “and everybody I know in the jazz world emanates from meeting those musicians.”

Since then, Hinely, who has worked at W&L since 1980, has become internationally known for his jazz photography. Many of his images have appeared in magazines and on album covers. In 2010, two of his images of jazz pianist Fred Hersch appeared in the New York Times Magazine. He also published “Jazz Calendiary 2008” (Jazzprezzo, Germany), which featured photographs taken between 1974 and 2007. He won the Grand Prix in the Jazz Photo International Competition in 1984 and was a finalist for the 2012 Photo of the Year in the Jazz Journalists Association Awards.

Among the more than 250 album covers which have included Hinely’s photography and/or liner notes are six by the late Charlie Haden and one by Keith Jarrett.

Today, Hinely is a recognized face to musicians at the Berlin festival. “I have to admit that it does feed my ego a bit when there are 15 photographers and myself taking photographs during sound check—they get you to shoot then so you’ll behave during the actual concert—and well-known musician John Scofield stops his sound check, puts down his guitar, comes over and gives me a hug,” he said.

Hinely also knows many musicians from shooting recording sessions in the 1980s and 1990s. “My ideal situation is a first rehearsal of new music, where the musicians are so involved in making creative decisions that they don’t pay attention to anything else. They’re not posing. I’m able to work around the periphery or insinuate myself into their midst, so that wherever I turn, someone is doing something interesting,” he said.

“Shooting photographs of jazz musicians is my other life away from my alma mater, probably for an audience of about the same size but more worldwide. I feel that shooting for the one keeps me in practice for shooting the other.”

His photograph of guitarist Freddie Green and the Count Basie Orchestra at W&L’s Fancy Dress Ball won first place in the 1985 Jazz Photo International competition in Europe and was published in W&L’s alumni magazine as well as in the 1999 “Come Cheer” book celebrating W&L’s 250th anniversary.

Hinely recalled that the woman at center left of the photograph wrote to him to explain that she wasn’t actually slapping her date. “She asked if I would sell her a print of the picture, but I said no to her money and sent her a copy anyway, inscribed ‘I couldn’t have done it without you,’ ” he said.

Hinely was hired to shoot a recording session that included jazz legend Chick Corea and Dannie Richmond, a drummer best known among jazz fans for his work with Charles Mingus, and among pop fans for his work with Joe Cocker and Elton John.

“This is the sort of reward one can reap from sitting quietly in a room while the tapes are rolling at a recording session,” said Hinely. “It’s also a bit of role reversal with Chick Corea, piano player on the date, taking the drum seat, while Dannie Richmond, drummer on the date, gives him an impromptu lesson.”

Hal Russell set the table for the free-improvisation and free-jazz scene that exploded in the 1990s in Chicago. The group was in town for the Berlin Jazz Festival, and Hinely was hired by a record company to shoot an album release celebration. This photograph became the cover of the ensemble’s next album.

“I’ve always liked the incidental cathedral lighting caused by the smoke in the room, though it came from cigarettes rather than incense,” Hinely commented. “This was long enough ago that many Germans still smoked without guilt.”

Norma Winstone is a British jazz singer and lyricist best known for her wordless improvisations. “I’d been listening to Norma for years,” said Hinely, “and when she was at loose ends in New York because the band she was to sing with cancelled, I asked to photograph her. We had time to sit and talk rather than rush the shoot, and in the middle of our chat the breeze began blowing the curtain behind her, yielding ripples of divine light. I couldn’t have planned it.”

Paul Horn was an American jazz flautist who recorded a solo flute album at the Taj Mahal in India in 1968, arguably giving birth to New Age music in the process. He died this summer. “Taking this photograph was the closest thing to a mystical experience I have had,” recalled Hinely.

“We went to the park for a photo shoot, and he started playing his flute. It was like having a concert just for me. I’d frame a picture and wish he’d turn a little more to the left, but there was no way I was going to interrupt him and ask him to change position. But he turned to the left anyway. Both of my eyes were obscured by the camera, so he couldn’t have been following my eyes. It happened again and again and too many times in a row for it to be coincidence or chance. Paul taught transcendental meditation for 40 years, so maybe he was hearing me on some other level.”