Young and not so busy, I knocked on the club door one afternoon and asked to talk to the manager, Danny Bensusan I introduced myself as a photographer and neighbor, and, of course, as a jazz fan. Danny said I could come that night and take some pictures, then show him the results. I came back a few days later, after spending quite a few hours at 20/20—a rental darkroom at 20 West 20th street. I showed Danny the 11”x14” tinted blue prints I’d made. He just said, “You are un-officially the house photographer. Come and go as you will.”
For most of 1990 I would go to the club a few times a week. The staff got to know me, and so did some of the artists. I had the good fortune to shoot such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Carmen McCrae, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, and Angela Bofill. Occasionally, a musician would hire me for a small fee to shoot an event like an award show at the club.
I remember being especially excited one night about seeing Sarah Vaughan perform. I came to the club a little early and found it full of commotion. Danny told me, to my surprise, that I wouldn’t be shooting that night. Later I learned that Sarah had arrived at the club, sat at the bar and had a few drinks, and then disappeared, leaving a full house waiting. She never came back to sing. Sarah Vaughan died later that year.
I have never really done anything with these images. At some point that year I started getting busy as a professional photographer and just kind of let go of this golden opportunity.