An espresso with…
Melanie Futorian

Image Credits: Melanie Futorian © George Libbares

September 6, 2018

Stories in people’s faces

We have interviewed Melanie Futorian, great portrayer and companion of the famous percussionist Don Alias

Who’s Melanie Futorian?
Well, that’s an interesting question, maybe I should ask my mom. What I do know is that I love the creative process – from dance to photography, writing, acting, music, painting and more.
I’m fascinated by color, lights and darks, textures, line, form, shapes, movement. Stories too. There are stories everywhere – unspoken in people’s faces.
Photographing them, I see a painting revealed with their posture, emotion, the background, and then it all comes together in a split second before it’s gone.
As a side note:
Some of my work history includes being a camera woman/audio engineer for The United Nations, CNN News, MTV, photographer for Zo-Ho Music; one CD I shot won a Latin Grammy (Pablo Zeigler), David Sanborn and Arturo O’Farrill’s CD’s and more. I’m also a regular contributor to “Jazz Quarterly” magazine. I’m a photographer for major dance companies, fashion shows and am a professional dancer/choreographer in New York.
Why Jazz photography? Are you only interested in Jazz?
I like to look at things so I find delight in photographing many subjects but I favor jazz and dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Jose Limon Company etc.
As a professional dancer, jazz has been my inspiration. Jazz has been in my soul for decades. At age 16, I was listening to Miles Davis, Weather Report and so many more artists. Little did I know that I’d have
a relationship with the percussionist on these records, as I didn’t even know his name back then.
As the companion of the great percussionist Don Alias, you’ll probably have anecdotes about jazz musicians, would you like to share some with us?
Don was performing with Nina Simone and Miles was staring at Don intensely. Nina said to Miles, “I hope you don’t steal my drummer,” but of course he did. She was so mad that Miles would call Don up and rasp “get that bitch off my back.” But Don stayed with Miles and “Bitches Brew” became a gold album.
Do you have any recommendations for beginners?
Take your time and wait for that moment you really want to capture. Photograph your passion.
Which is your favourite gear?
Anything with a long lens. I love the intimacy but from being afar. I use a Nikon currently and previously a Canon which I also adore, though I had great results with a 40 dollar camera too. I think it was a Kodak Instamatic.
The pic you’d wish to have taken?
I helped deliver a baby on the sidewalk in New York one day. That was one of the most emotional experiences of my life; I wish I had photographed that. 

Images © Melanie Futorian
Reservados todos los derechos – All rights reserved – 版權所有 – 版权所有;

Melanie Futorian Interview 2018 Leonardo Schiavone Jazzespresso Jazz Magazine – copyright 2018 

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Jazzespresso is a magazine, a website, a network, a hub, connecting all the souls of jazz all over the world. Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa: news from all over the world on a page in four languages. A multicultural reference point in English, Chinese and Spanish language for the lovers of this music in every country. For the amateur or the pro who wants to be updated about what is happening all around the world… Stay tuned.
Jazzespresso 不只是一個爵士樂雜誌,也是一個能將擁有各種不同精髓的世界爵士樂,包括美洲、歐洲、亞洲、澳洲及非洲各地,互相連結起來的網站及交流站。以中文及英文寫成的內容將是一個新的多元文化交流的參考點,為各地的爵士音樂愛好者提供來自全世界最新的消息。請持續關注!
JazzEspresso 不只是一个爵士乐杂誌,也是一个能将拥有各种不同精髓的世界爵士乐,包括美洲、欧洲、亚洲、澳洲及非洲各地,互相连结起来的网站及交流站。以中文及英文写成的内容将是一个新的多元文化交流的参考点,为各地的爵士音乐爱好者提供来自全世界最新的消息。请持续关注!
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Melanie Futorian
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3 thoughts on “An espresso with…
Melanie Futorian

  • 2018-09-06 at 2:33 pm

    Great article Melanie is a true talent who wears many hats! We are continued to be surprised with what she comes up with next! I was a little confused with the misinformation of the “wife” of Don Alias. Melanie was absolutely a great partner and soulmate for my father Don Alias. But I do not recall a marriage. She has been amazing in her efforts of keeping his legacy alive through her book and tribute events. We as a family appreciate all she has worked so hard to do. Thank you for giving her the spotlight she so well deserves.

    • 2018-09-09 at 7:50 pm

      Dear Kimberlee,
      we apologize for the inconvenient;
      Jazzespresso is published in 4 languages and this has led to a misunderstanding between the translators, and this was totally our fault; we promptly changed the text, as you can see.

      best regards

  • 2018-09-10 at 4:01 am

    Thank you! Your quick response is much appreciated! Nonetheless, Melanie is still very respected and very much apart of the family for being an amazing partner too my Father, as well as her had work and diligence in keeping my Fathers legacy alive.


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