Old & New Dreams, Hardcover book by John Rogers
with introduction by Dawoud Bey.
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Photographer John Rogers’ Book Debut Showcases Images of Acclaimed Improvisers Including Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian and Dr. Yusef Lateef Along with Pandemic-Era NYC Street Photography in Old and New Dreams.
Old and New Dreams, is a striking document of veteran NYC music and street photographer John Rogers' evolving vitality. In his first published collection of photography, Rogers draws from his fifteen-year, pre-pandemic live concert image catalog featuring master improvisers such as Ornette Coleman, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Paul Motian, Dr.Yusef Lateef, and Bill Frisell juxtaposed with the starkness of present-day New York City behind its pandemic mask.
Using the global pandemic as a dividing line, the title of Rogers' book debut speaks to his previous passion and evolving vision. As he collided with the restrictions of the pandemic, the global quarantine gave Rogers an opportunity to take inventory. The synergy captured in his candid, energetic, and set-rousing music photos seen in Old and New Dreams extends beyond the notes. Many of the musicians in the book became admirers of John's work including Billy Hart, Ornette Coleman, Andrew Cyrille, Jason Moran and Chris Potter. In total, 45 musicians are captured in Rogers' distinctive style that is as real and in the moment as what was happening on the bandstand.
As the music-in-motion is captured loudly and vibrantly on Old and New Dreams, Rogers' city portraits are, in contrast, much quieter but compelling to the viewer with an understated intensity with bursts of color and light. The resultant pictures are giving Rogers' increased visibility and embrace in the photography and art community and among them is MacArthur fellow and artist Dawoud Bey. Bey has been an invaluable teacher, supporter and advocate for Rogers' work and contributes the written introduction to Old and New Dreams.
"John, alone among everyone I know, clearly and with great prescience, saw the full and catastrophic weight of this pandemic coming before it even fully hit," Bey said. “He has persisted in [his] work and has accumulated a group of quietly powerful pictures that stand as an engaging testimony to a city whose beating heart will not soon be extinguished." ~ Dawoud Bey
“John Rogers rides his bike all over New York City. There is danger and risk involved. He is exposed. There is nothing between him and what’s happening. He’s in it. The same is true when he’s amongst musicians and the music he loves. He’s in it. This intimacy comes through in his photos. He brings us along for the ride”. ~ Bill Frisell
“For all the years I’ve spent performing creative music, I never thought that I would end up in a position to have a photographer with whom I would work regularly. John Rogers came into my life very early on and has not only taken photos that totally capture the ethos, the beauty, and the urgency that surrounds my work, but he has also proved an invaluable friend who understands the meaning of life well-spent making art that is direct, honest, and progressive. I feel blessed to have a friend and a photographer whose work and being possesses all of these qualities.” ~ Dr Tyshawn Sorey