Thursday, October 23, 2014


Jane Bunnett promo 8x10, 1988

I WORKED WITH JANE BUNNETT more than any other musician, actor, director, writer or chef, so I'm going to have to parse out my photos of Jane over the next year - it's a lot of work, and turned into quite an adventure. But let's start at the beginning.

Back when the Nerve was still a going concern, I was asked to go out to Parkdale and interview a young flute and sax player who was putting together some kind of all-star concert at the BamBoo involving a whole bunch of big deal musicians from New York - people like Don Pullen and Dewey Redman, who'd played with Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman. "You're into jazz, aren't you?" Dave, the editor, asked me, basically as a dare.

I showed up at the house Jane shared with her husband, trumpet player Larry Cramer, and did an interview based around me trying not to get caught out on my then-woefully rudimentary knowledge of the music. It was a task made more difficult by Larry's habit of popping his head in every now and then and peppering me with jazz trivia questions, like "Who's the sax player on this record? Is he playing tenor or alto? Is this a standard? Name it."

Jane Bunnett, Toronto 1987

They were working on the back of the house, and I had Jane sit by where they'd been stripping away at the brick by the door to their tiny yard - the same one where I'd later shoot John Tchicai. I took at least one roll and headed off to print it in the makeshift darkroom I'd carved out of half a room in my tiny Boystown apartment, between the living room and the bathroom, which required me to cover my desk with garbage bags to protect it when chemicals slopped over the edge of the developing trays.

I'm not sure which photo ran with my Nerve piece, but it must have gone over well enough, because a few months later, when I moved with my girlfriend and her sister into a massive loft space just around the corner from Jane and Larry, they were the first people I called to tell them we were neighbours. They were releasing In Dew Time, the record that came about from their all-star sessions, and needed a promo glossy, so I was asked to print up something.

The shot we picked - up at the top of this post - is a bit somber, and doesn't really do much to capture Jane's personality. I prefer the photo below, which I printed up at some point years later, even though Jane's rather outrageously crimped hair and shoulder pads date it fiercely. Mostly it's the contrast between the textures of her hair, the bricks and the tire tread pattern on her jacket that make it worth a second look.

I asked Jane recently what she remembered about this first shoot:
"I was pretty impressed by your real desire to talk music...your broad range of musical tastes and your sharp cynical wit!! An automatic friend for life at that moment..."
So when Jane and Larry started work on their next record, I had become part of the team, and shooting the cover would take me back to New York City again.

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