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“Jazz Now” photography exhibition.

Updated: Jun 27

BY: DAN GABEL. June 4, 2024

Featuring the Jazz photography of our board member, Kofi Poku.



When Kofi Poku of Worcester photographs jazz artists on stage he's hoping to capture an

important perspective of the performance.


"Passion," Poku said.


Also, that "Jazz is alive."





The passion of the performance is alive in well in Poku's photograph exhibition "Jazz Now"

that will open June 4 at the Harold Stevens Gallery at WCUW 91.3 Community Radio, 910

Main St., Worcester. The opening reception will be at 6 p.m. June 4.


The exhibition features rising and seasoned artists on the contemporary jazz scene.

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'I became a music junkie'


You can see the intensity on the faces of saxophone players Grace Kelly performing at the

Berklee College of Music and Charles Lloyd at the Newport Jazz Festival as captured by Poku.

Other photographs that convey the musical magic of the moment include images of local

artists Dan Gabel and the Abletones; singer-songwriter, actress and activist Angelique Kidjo,

vocalist Celisse, and bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, all at the Newport Jazz Festival;

and guitarist Pasquale Grasso and vocalist Samara Joy at Clark University.


"Jazz Now" is the first exhibition for Poku, a freelance photographer who is originally from

Ghana and settled in Worcester. "My dad was all music. I became a music junkie from there,"

Kofu said.


A jazz-lover, Poku became a volunteer at radio station WICN 90.5 FM, which specializes in

jazz programing, and took photos of its concerts. He's gone on to photograph shows from

Clark University, Tuckerman Hall and Mechanics Hall to Boston, Newport and New York

City for over 20 years, his work appearing in a number of different outlets.


He said mentors have included the late Fred Taylor, longtime entertainment director at

Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, and the late Brian Barlow, former general manager of WICN.

Regarding Grace Kelly, who has performed in Worcester several times, he said he knows her

parents.


"This is actually a jam-packed gallery from floor to ceiling. I'm so excited," said Worcester

photographer and Clark University professor Stephen DiRado, who oversees The Harold

Stevens Gallery, after helping to set up "Jazz Now."

"He's being very modest," DiRado said of Poku. "Everybody knows Kofi. He's loved by

everybody. As he said, he doesn't just photograph them, he knows their families."

A passion for music

The passion comes from the photographer as well as the music. "He's very passionate. This is

his jazz family — the artist on stage," DiRado said.

"I have had the pleasure to know Kofi for about 15 years," said trombonist and band leader

Dan Gabel. "Not only is he a brilliant photographer, but he is one of the nicest, kindest, and

giving souls I know. His passion for music can light up a room."

Poku has recently been named to the board of directors of the American Big Band

Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit organization, said Gabel, who is also the society's

president and CEO.


The Harold Stevens Gallery opened in March. It is named for Harold L. Stevens Jr. who died

in 2022 and left a generous bequest to WCUW. Stevens, who worked in the culinary field, was

a friend of DiRado's and many others but also something of a mystery man. Troy Tyree,

WCUW executive director, has said the gift was a surprise. Part of the bequest is being used

to establish the new Harold Stevens Gallery at the radio station in his honor. The first

exhibition was "The Harold Pictures" by DiRado consisting of images of Stevens that DiRado

had taken during the years of their friendship.


"Jazz Now" will run into September but the final date had not been announced yet, DiRado

said.


Poku's exhibition is "in line with the gallery as a community gallery in the widest sense of the

word," DiRado said. "From Harold (Stevens) to someone (Poku) who's never had a show

before."


'Jazz Now' photographs by Kofi Poku

When: Opening reception, 6 p.m. June 4. Exhibit runs into September.

Where: Harold Stevens Gallery, WCUW 91.3 Community Radio, 910 Main St., Worcester

How much: Free. wcuw.org

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