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Jazz Photography


Many are familiar with Kansas City’s rich history of jazz, but a new photography exhibit at The Box Gallery reveals the remarkable live music scene brewing in the 18th and Vine District.

The exhibition, titled KC Swing: Jazz Photography by Diallo Javonne French, features black and white photographs that channel the rhythm and intensity of live performances.  The show opens on First Friday, November 1st.

Local photographer and filmmaker, Diallo Javonne French, may be best known for his short films, but his photography talent is building his career momentum.

Diallos’ photographs evoke our city’s historic jazz-scene clout, while capturing the energy and spirit of many contemporary musicians. The majority of the photographs were shot at The Blue Room, a jazz club that features local and national musicians, and The Mutual Musicians Foundation, the oldest continual running jazz house in the world.

The exhibit will also include new poetry by Glenn North, Poet-in-Residence at the American Jazz Museum.  North’s work is a personal response to six of French’s photographs.  The text not only adds a wealth of context to the images but provides an imaginative insiders-view.

“We are very excited that Diallo and Glenn will be sharing their work with downtown workers and residents,” stated Robin Trafton, gallery director.  “We hope this show will inspire our visitors to catch a jazz performance, visit the Jazz Museum, and explore the music scene at 18th and Vine.”

Diallo Javonne French’s work will be on display from November 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.  The Box Gallery is located in the Commerce Bank Building at 1000 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106.  Hours are Monday-Friday from 8am to 8pm.  Admission is free and open to the public.

An opening reception event will be held on First Friday, November 1st from 4:30-6:30.  The event is free, open to the public, and will feature live jazz music by Eddie Moore & The Outer Circle.

About Diallo Javonne French

Born in Kansas City, Diallo Javonne French started as a musician.  He began his filmmaking and photography career when he bought an 8mm camera from a pawn shop.  Diallo moved to Atlanta Georgia in the early 1990’s and attended Clark Atlanta University majoring in Mass Communications, Radio/T.V./Film. While attending school he worked as a production assistant on several music videos that included such artists as TLC, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Xscape, Raven Symone, Usher and with director Hype Williams.

French’s photography has been exhibited locally including the American Jazz Museum, and was purchased by Hallmark Cards for a greeting card project.

Also on display at The Box Gallery will be French’s short film, titled May This Be Love, which tells the story of a young couple’s relationship as they experience and explore their spiritual togetherness.  In 2009 the short was featured on the BET show “Lens On Talent,” and took first place in the 2007 Atlanta Urban Mediamakers Film Festival.  The film was also included in the Spaghetti Junction Urban Film Festival, Kansas City Urban Film Festival, and the Urban Film Series. French writes feature length scripts and has directed several short films.