Musical Roots: The Seventies

/ 1 June, 2018

For the collectors, academics and aficionados of fi ne arts photography whose patronage has positioned Mario Algaze at the front line of 20th/21st century craftsmen, on the basis of his deep excursions into the cultures of Central America, South America and the Caribbean, this volume arrives as nothing short of a revelation. Bittersweet, perhaps, because it serves as a trip through a bygone musical era (…) where objects may appear closer than they are. But a celebration nonetheless, because these pictures are truly the Musical Roots of Mario, his song, his earthy beginnings, (…) before he became un gigante.

(…) Unlike many other self-actualized music photographers of the time, Mario has always insisted, “I started as a fine arts photographer, I did not start as a rock and roll photographer.” Like one of his heroes David Crosby, Mario lets his freak flag fly as he proudly proclaims it all changed forever when, “I dropped acid and took my camera to a music festival.” A star is born.

In fact, our paths first crossed in 1971, at the South Beach progressive underground FM radio station WBUS, where we both held steady gigs. 24 year-old Mario was a struggling all night disc jockey (…). Earning a meager salary, he managed his fine arts (and earliest music) photography on the side. Dinosaurs roamed the earth, and we were going to rock shows every single week.

(…) His first career turning point was The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972, their June 27th date at the Mobile (AL) Civic Center, midway on their tour for Exile On Main St. Mario borrowed the plush Travco mobile home of his mentor, fi lm processing pioneer David Lawrence, for the solo drive from Florida to Mobile, where he settled in backstage. “In those days when they saw a mobile home, they thought ‘here comes the band!’” Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, strutting peacocks caught in amber, crackle with ferocity, defining this pivotal year in rock history.

(…) The essence of Mario (and David Gahr) at work in that black and white rock arena involved mastering and taming available light. Traveling un-heavy (think wartime photogs) meant no flash to flatten the evocative depth-of-field (…).

For lifelong darkroom chemists like Mario and David, whose silver gelatin prints are distinct as a fingerprint, there can be no discussion of digital photography. “The day they take my celluloid away,” Mario says, “I will slash my wrists. No, I will take up the piano.”

(…) In their own way, the 1970s Musical Roots of Mario Algaze have finally come full circle, larger-than-life too. Rock on, children.

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