When a person makes a difference in your life, it is up to you to let the world know that he lived! Drummer, photographer, film maker, and educator Howard Moss was that person in my life. Since 1986, we performed jazz music together in so many clubs and venues in South Florida that I cannot remember. O’Hara’s on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale was where we had the longest run. But the gigs in Fort Lauderdale and Miami linger on.
The last gig we did together was part of the Lauderhill Jazz Series.
But all the gigs in between are a blur, today.
Howard Moss was an icon in South Florida. He worked with so many musicians in the jazz and Brazilian communities, many that have gone on before him, and even more of us who will miss his smiling eyes. Howard Moss was the rhythm in my song! ~ Joan Cartwright
The following information was compiled by our mutual friend Dinizulu Gene Tinnie.
A Bright Moment on Planet Earth
Howard Moss at Elmina Castle, Ghana, West Africa, where the Transatlantic “slave trade” originated, working on his project “Souls across the Sea”.
From Black Art in America
HOWARD MOSS is Filmmaker and Still Photographer based in Miami, Florida.
His photos have appeared in magazines and textbooks, calendars, album covers, and have been exhibited in galleries and institutions nationally including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pratt Institute, The Anacostia Museum, The Old Dillard Museum, The Miami-Dade Library Collection and in private collections.
Moss’ work in film and tape has appeared on The Major Networks & Public Television.
Moss has traveled extensively throughout West Africa, the Caribbean, Central & South America, Australia, Europe and Polynesia documenting various facets of the countries and the underwater world. His photos and derivative works are available as stock photos and collector prints.
Jazz lovers can check out his first published book Bright Moments in Jazz celebrating live performance shots of Americas finest jazz performers currently available on the web at Blurb.com.
From the Black Qigong Activation web site
24th August by blackqiactivation
I first met Howard Moss at the Qigong conference in Orlando. I was about to walk past him, but then I stopped to say hi. I’m so grateful that I did because Howard Moss is a POWERHOUSE of talent!
All I can say is WOW! Read his profile below and you’ll learn why. Howard is quite the accomplished producer, director and cameraman. His still photos have appeared in magazines and textbooks, on calendars and album covers and have been exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Pratt Institute in New York.
A graduate of WNET-13 Film and Television Training School and New York University Institute of Film and Television, Howard’s work in film and tape have appeared on ABC, NBC and Public TV. Feature film credits include Cease Fire, Nino Graci Films Rome, Italy. Howard has designed and taught film, still photography and videotape courses for Humanities Upward Bound, Yale State Training Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Staten Island Community College and New York University School of Continuing Education and Arts for Learning Miami.
He was the Co-Producer and Director of Photography for a Cable TV Program entitled HORIZONS, which aired on Channel 17 in Miami. He has been the Cameraman/Director for two series produced for Public Television: Afro Arts and The Black Entrepreneur on Location. He has filmed Music Videos for Diana Ross and Sade and has shot numerous entertainment segments for BET and Sony Pictures.
Howard contributed his writing skills to the creation of a documentary series for WPBT-TV Channel 2 entitled PROFILES. He has been a freelance writer for Underwater USA, Scuba Times Magazine, The South Florida Underwater Photo Society, and Detroit Free Press. His latest effort is the publication of his book “Bright Moments in Jazz.”
He’s also a musician and avid diver. I was so thrilled to learn that he wanted to be a part of Black Qi Activation. I’m sure you will find his story inspiring.
What inspired you to first start practicing Qigong?
I have studied various forms of martial arts starting with Judo in a YMCA program as a kid. Over the years all of my instructors talked about Qi and the importance of breathing but Qigong was for the most part put into a separate esoteric arena not formally offered as a part of my regular training. Having survived numerous serious injuries and disease I began to look for ways to improve and enhance my life, moving increasingly away from the manic western orientation that we suffer
Interview from Black Qigong Activation through today. I looked for opportunities to recapture the tranquility and energized power I had found in studying Tai Chi many years ago. I enrolled in a school that offers Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qigong training in a very integrated manner. I had found a new home and a new path to renewed healing. Being a lung cancer survivor I discussed this with my oncologist who unaware of all my efforts at the time suggested that I look into Qigong and pointed me to a Qigong conference in Orlando, FL this past spring. LIFE CHANGED!
How do you incorporate Qigong into your everyday life?
The Qigong conference in Orlando reawakened and reinvigorated my sense of direction. Four days of intense training, networking, and camaraderie combined with my return to Tai Chi set me on path toward a renewed sense of purpose, discipline and daily practice which is offering me a more internally peaceful way of being. I currently engage in two days of formal training and a daily meditation routine.
Tell us about your latest project (or a project that you are really passionate about)
Being an eclectic spirit, I have several projects that I am passionate about. However, I think they all somehow fall under the heading of a project I began several years ago titled Windows on the World (WOW). WOW was conceived as a pilot for a children’s education television program that involves children teaching other children about the world through travel. The pilot for this project was shot in The Galapagos Islands. It is currently undergoing a face lift in various formats and has been integrated into educational workshops that I conduct with a number of educational organizations.
I also have book projects in the works the first of which, Bright Moments in Jazz, was published in 2012.
What do you hope will emerge from the expression of your work?
The goal of all my projects is to present a vision based on a love of learning, travel and respect for life. It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.
What is the best way for people to contact you (purchase your books, etc.)?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out websites:
Two Special Remembrances
“I first met Howard at the WNET Channel 13 Television Training School in New York. As graduates of the year-long program we formed a small community of black filmmakers from the three year three class program (you know, too many qualified blacks knocking on the industry’s doors so the white supremacy system/culture found a way to shut the program down in around 1974, I think). We did mini-documentaries, shooting every weekend with evening classes Monday through Thursday 6-10 p.m. Participants were already writers, photographers, artists and activists. It was a wonderful community in which we all learned from each other and created together. WE WERE FEARED! Most from that august group became film teachers or left the country. Few tried to persevere like Howard Moss.”
–Al Calloway, journalist, South Florida Times
“I am in a difficult place because I am devastated upon the news but also content that he has made his transition and does not have to suffer and be in pain anymore. I was blessed to spend time with him on my trip back from Key West and will always remember those special hours. We were planning to exhibit his photographs in Pensacola next year at the planned Black Archives and Music Makers Museum. Everyone was so impressed with his talent. He also helped me celebrate my birthday a few years ago when he was still driving and not on oxygen! My brother will be missed.”
–Jolita Dorsett, close friend and co-founder of Kuumba Artists Association; longtime activist, advocate, and social worker on behalf of making Alzheimer’s Disease better known and assisting families with loved ones who were affected, one of the last persons to have visited Howard.
Bright Moments in Jazz
© Richard Johnson
The late, legendary multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1977), who was known as much for his social consciousness and vivacious personality (undaunted by his blindness) as for his dazzling creativity, inspired and uplifted many, including a host of fellow musicians and artists, with his exuberant, joyous album “Bright Moments.” Among those most inspired were sculptor Curtis Paterson, whose remarkable energetic abstract sculpture of that title graces Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport in a reverent tribute to Kirk’s genius, and multitalented photographer and educator Howard Moss, who found that title to be absolutely ideal for his unique portfolio of photographs of African American Classical Music (“Jazz”) icons in live performances.
Far from being mere voyeuristic snapshots, these dramatic portraits, rendered in the traditional classic mode of black-and-white photography, capture “slices of life” with an artistry and musicality in their own right that only a fellow musician could appreciate and communicate. These are truly “Bright Moments.”
Long in the making with meticulous attention to detail and the subtleties of darkroom mastery of each image, this ambitions project made its debut at the Old Dillard Museum in Fort Lauderdale in December, 2003, and was enthusiastically received at a well-attended Opening Reception featuring silken-voiced vocalist Brenda Alford in live performance as the perfect complement and counterpoint to the exhibition.
“Bright Moments in Jazz” by Howard Moss would thenceforth become a signature “performance” which would become a published book (much the artist’s dream), and, notably, expanded 2010 exhibition which reached an even larger audience at Jazz-formatted Community Radio station WDNA-FM in Miami (see following page) and generated phenomenal support.
Bright Moments in Jazz
Fine Arts Concert: July 17, 2010
The 88.9FM Fine Arts Concert Series presents the Miami debut of Dr. Kathy Brown’s Jazz Trio and Bright Moments in Jazz, a photographic exhibition by acclaimed photographer Howard Moss. Saturday, July 17, 2010, at 7:30pm, in the 88.9FM Jazz Gallery.
The event includes catered cuisine by Angelique Euro Café, cocktails, and refreshments.
Tickets are $25 for current WDNA members and $50 for general admission. Reservations are required at
From the Jazzmen Web Site
Howard Moss began his musical training at the age of six under the guidance of his father who was a musician that left Miami to join the Bessie Smith band and ultimately worked with many noted big bands out of New York City.
In his early days Moss studied piano, trumpet, and alto sax with his dad and private instructors and finally settled down with drums. Since his first official “gig” at the age of twelve, he has worked with a wide range of music groups, playing everything from Broadway Show Tunes, Blues, R&B, Brazilian Samba and Bossa Nova, to Fusion Jazz.
Moss has had the honor and pleasure of sharing the stage with such noted giants as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Alice Coltrane, Dr. Lonnie Smith, to name a few and has worked with many of he noted jazz artists in the Miami area for the past 25 years.
Moss’ pet project today is a project called Bright Moments in Jazz featuring his black & white photography of jazz musicians in live performances. This project is now being organized into a traveling exhibition with plans to develop a book of the same title. Source: http://www.fyicomminc.com/jazzmen/howardmoss.htm
‘Bright Moments in Jazz’
An Autobiographical Sketch
©2003 Howard Moss — all rights reserved.
I think I was about 8 years old when my godfather gave me my first trumpet and my dad would take me to music gigs where he played the piano and did arrangements for the band. It was about that same time that I got my Brownie Holiday camera as a gift from my aunt. I could never have dreamed that the two events would one day become so connected.
I was always captivated by the way the musicians seemed to lose themselves in the solos when they would play… Wally Rogers would bend backwards like a rubber Gumby figure as his trumpet reached for notes that resided somewhere in outer space… Joe Delgado closed his eyes and drifted into another world as he strummed Brazilian chords and rhythms that were unlike anything else that I was hearing in those days… Frank Barbieri played the bass in a way that made it talk and I could see his lips bouncing as though he were answering back to his instrument… My dad always seemed to have a perpetual smile on his face when he sat at the keyboard… For me, in the dimly lit world of night clubs, these were Bright Moments, as I imagined myself a musician escaping into these unknown worlds of pleasure. From the wings of stages I learned little trumpet riffs and froze in my mind the images of these people who were my teachers, my friends, and my extended family.
Years later my trumpet was replaced by a set of drums and my Brownie camera gave way to a much more complex set of optics. I imagined my dad, still smiling, as he did in his solos in the world of the spirits. I was a drummer in a variety of bands including my own and in the late ‘60s I began to photograph some of my favorite artists when they appeared in concert… It was like a series of flashbacks to the days when I first watched the guys that played with my dad, only now I understood what they were feeling.
Over the years I have been fortunate to have the blessing and the privilege to share the stage as a performer with many of the individuals who appear in my photo series. For this I am eternally thankful. And I have been on a mission ever since to capture the many moods and expressions of America’s original music and art form known as jazz. Therefore, Bright Moments in Jazz is an ongoing photographic project which attempts to capture the character and many moods of an American music form – the intense, oblivious, sublime moments in which the performers become one with their instrument or voice, and send their spirits rushing into the souls of the audience. Off stage, those thoughtful moments and camaraderie with friends, fellow musicians and admirers form a composite that documents an important part of American heritage.
This project is dedicated to my parents who endowed me with the gift of music and all the great musicians that continue to fill my life with Bright Moments. –Excerpt from the Catalogue of the Exhibition, Old Dillard Museum, Dec. 2003— Feb., 2004
Book Cover of “Bright Moments in Jazz,” Featuring John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie. What better title for such a celebratory work?
From the Diversity in Aquatics Web Site:
More about me: I am a photographer, filmmaker, musician and a NAUI certified diver for over 28 years. Prior to that time I served as a YMCA & Red Cross Certified Water Safety Instructor. I have specialized in Underwater Photography and have had the good fortune to dive and photograph The Great Barrier Reefs of Australia and Belize as well as many locations in French Polynesia and the Coral Sea, South America, The Caribbean, Bahamas and much of The Florida Keys. My pet project, Windows on the World was filmed and photographed in The Galapagos Islands. My images are available for licensing as stock photos and as prints from The Inner Sanctum Series.
Bronze plaque placed by the National Association of Black Scuba Divers at the wreck site of the
English slave ship Henrietta Marie, which sank west of Key West in 1700, a project inspired by Moss.
Coming at this the long way from afar, because credit must be given where it is due, and achievements recognize that might otherwise be forgotten, I begin by setting the stage with the 1986 Annual Meeting of the venerable National Conference of Artists (NCA), which was held in Washington, DC, at the Howard Inn hotel, owned by Howard University, a very conscious gathering at which several young people were present, where luminaries like Babatunde Olatunji and Elizabeth Catlett were present, at which Miami was represented by myself, Gallery Antigua owner Caleb Davis, and elder and master artist Chares Mills, and where each attendee received, among many gifts of inspiration, the latest issue of American Visions magazine, a brilliant publication, affiliated with the Smithsonian, edited by Gary Puckrein.
A week or two later, I received a call from Caleb, asking if I had looked at the magazine, because there was an article in it about a slave ship wreck discovered off Key West. I immediately found the magazine article, by Chicago-based journalist Ray Lane, which told of the discovery of the English slave ship Henrietta Marie, by the famed treasure hunter Mel Fisher, but this was not to be just another find. It would become, under the sage guidance of archaeologists David Moore and Corey Malcom, the first wreck of a slave ship to be found and seriously studied in North American waters.
Because of my own longstanding interest in the study of the Middle Passage and the Slave Ship Replica Project (indeed the reason for Caleb’s call to me), I quickly resolved to pay a visit to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, where these investigators were based – what excuse did I have not to, being as close as Miami, for not doing so? – at the first opportunity, which would come just weeks later.
In preparing for that visit, I called Howard Moss, to assess his interest, and learned that he, too, had been called by Caleb, and had waited even less time before making his own trek southward to the island city, where he videotaped an interview with diver Tony Kopp, who was involved in the Henrietta Marie investigation, and other relevant material. We agreed to meet immediately, and I spent some very meaningful time watching the video footage he had shot.
This indeed served as a good preparation for my own first visit to the Museum in Key West, where I met the aforementioned players who welcomed me, and my interest, quite warmly, and that cordial relationship has continued and grown, even to the point of my now serving on the board of the Mel Fisher Museum.
Yet, for all the meticulously rigorous and diligent work these expert divers and archaeologists were carrying out, there seemed to be a glaring absence of direct involvement by African Americans in a discovery that was so compelling and so integral to African American history and heritage. (Artifacts found at the wreck site included iron shackles, some small enough for children that had actually been placed on human beings, who had been sold in Jamaica prior to the ship’s demise on her homeward journey.) That awareness made me even more appreciative of the value of Howard’s early involvement and documentation.
It would be some time later that I would receive an impromptu invitation, on the very day of an informal gathering that was being held in honor of Harlem Renaissance-era artist Georgette Seabrooke Powell (best remembered for her mural, recently restored at Harlem Hospital), which was being hosted by her son Ric at his apartment in North Miami. It was a very pleasant coming together, where new friendships were being made around shared appreciation of artistic genius, most notable among them my own bonding with Ric, who, as we discovered, was my “home boy” from the South Bronx, knowing several of the people I knew as close family friends, and sharing similar backgrounds and life experiences.
All of that became somewhat secondary, however, once he mentioned that he was not only a former Navy SEAL, but was then the president and a founding member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS). I wasted no time in acquainting him with the Henrietta Marie story, and the fact that there would be surely other slave ship wrecks to be found and studied, but there was a dearth of African American awareness or knowledge, much less involvement in this field.
His keen immediate interest prompted me to call Howard and invite him to the party, so these brothers could meet, and I was very pleasantly surprised that he, as busy as he always is, was not only available to take the call, but was even able to join us on short notice.
The rest, as the cliché goes, is history. Ric and Howard took the providential opportunity, since the next NABS Annual Dive Summit was to be held in Fort Lauderdale, to invite the archaeologists from the Mel Fisher Museum to attend and to make a presentation at the Summit, which was extremely well received, and led directly to the organization’s launch of the ambitious project to place an undersea monument at the wreck site.
That event would ultimately garner national, and even international attention, not without its share of hype and self-serving hoopla on the part of some participants, with Howard and Ric quietly present as the knowledgeable core of it all, but whose most significant contributions to the true meaning of the whole event was arguably the presence of their respective sons Vincent and Khristopher, in a history-making experience that they are not likely to ever forget.
Not insignificantly, that history-making culmination of over a year’s dedicated and skillful organizing coincided with the premiere opening of “A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie,” and exhibition of the rich trove of artifacts discovered and retrieved from the wreck site. That exhibition would ultimately go on a national tour, and would provide opportunities provide opportunities for both Howard and Ric to share their insights and experiences at selected venues, notably Miami and Riviera Beach, Florida, and Charleston, West Virginia. Howard I and I would also subsequently be featured in the Florida Crossroads television production “Shackles in the Sand.”
No less importantly, their pioneering efforts also gave a new focus and sense of purpose to the NABS organization, indeed leading literally to the Diving with a Purpose (DWP) initiative launched by Ken Stewart of Nashville, and other members, who have diligently involved youth as well in such adventures as the search for the 1827 wreck of the Spanish slaver Guerrero in Key Largo.
This, for all of its multi-layered, multi-faceted positive and lasting impact, well into the future, is but one of so many components of the legacy of Howard Moss. –Dinizulu Gene Tinnie
Note: This was written not long after my telephone conversation with Khristopher, in which we discussed the plans for his father’s Memorial Service, considering a larger gathering at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, followed by a smaller gathering to take his father’s ashes to a favorite and special place off Fiesta Key, near Key Largo. Then came the news of Khris’s demise.
From the Sea to Our Souls: Artist and Educator
Howard Moss was of that generation which grew up in the 1950s when the immensely popular “Sea Hunt” television program, even in black-and white, open the extraordinary undersea world which the then-recently developed SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving technology made accessible to anyone adventurous enough to explore it, free of the restrictions of old heavy diving suits and helmets attached by hoses to the boat above.
Few and far between were the African Americans who could or would avail themselves of this exciting new opportunity, and fewer still among them would be those with the consummate skills of photography and filmmaking that would make it possible to share this experience with their communities in ways that were as artistic, spiritual, and inspiring as Howard Moss did.
For here was not only a world of extraordinary beauty, awaiting the artist with the “chops” worthy of portraying it, but also an entity – water, and all the lives within it – which has always had special and profound significance to the African World and our understanding of the universe.
Howard would travel far and wide, gathering and sharing knowledge as he with the same dedication that he brought to “Bright Moments in Jazz” pursued his “Windows on the World” (WOW) project for young people (with whom he had a special rapport, proven in numerous educational workshops and similar experiences). He opened young eyes to previously unseen and unheard-of images and information. He was teaching by example, inspiring his charges with new-found awareness of the many possibilities and opportunities that could be a part of their lives.
The strength and value of that gift can only be fully appreciated against the backdrop of “ourstory,” and our timeless relationship to the waters as both bridge as barrier, as both giver and taker of life, as that which is so much a part of us, and of which we are so much a part. The ocean which brought so many of our Ancestors to the Americas and elsewhere, centuries before Columbus and in the unspeakable convulsion known as the Middle Passage, is a deity that defines the African World and a compelling presence that was vibrantly alive in the soul of Howard Moss, whose “Souls across the Ocean” project would be yet another legacy connecting us to our past and future.
The Art and Soul of Howard Moss
Howard’s rare gift for capturing images of life as capably as he captured the sounds of music was not limited to extraordinary images from beneath and beyond the sea. Like his “Bright Moments in Jazz,” these images, whether in vivid color or traditionally expressive black-and-white, were objects of fine art, printed with care, and often in creative forms and materials.
Indeed, his introduction to Miami was an impressive exhibition at the County’s Main Library of his super-large-format photojournalistic images culled from his travels to locations as far away as Paris and elsewhere, capturing glimpses of life and the human experience that had already established him as an acclaimed voice, to be welcomed in his new home amongst the palm trees.
With such a “grand entrance,” Miami’s African World art community welcomed him as a new brother and team member, and he soon found himself pressed into service even doing physical labor to set up exhibitions – a rude introduction for a man of his accomplishments, but one he embraced — like the highly successful 1980 Black Artists’ Showcase in downtown Miami, organized by the newly created statewide Kuumba Artists Association of Florida (now the Kuumba Artists Collective).
Kuumba, building on the local foundation established by the Miami Black Arts Workshop in Miami’s historic Coconut Grove district, would become a recognized presence in South Florida, not only as promoters and organizers of well-received exhibitions, but also as a supporter of such worthy causes, through donations of a significant portion of proceeds from art sales, as the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, the Haitian Refugee Center (then led by the late rev. Gerard Jean-Juste), the Coalition for a Free South Africa, and others. Howard Moss was a part of it all, with his photography-as-art which was such an enhancement to all of those exhibitions.
In the end, Howard was first and foremost an artist, and one for whom education of the youth, and of the community at large, was also an art form in itself, not unlike his ever-reliable artistic role as a musician.
The Greatest Creation
Yet, all of those achievements pale in comparison to his greatest work of art ever, when his equally creative wife Wanda gave birth to their only son, Khristopher. From birth, in various ways, Khris would be welcomed and embraced by the Village, whether it be musicians, scuba divers, educators, historians, or artists, who shared the joy of watching this beautiful, gifted, and promising child grow into adulthood, so much loved by both his parents. He would grow to be, like his father, a man of the waters, a boat captain, and a liberated spirit. He, like his father, will live forever in our hearts and not ever be forgotten.
Howard Moss, you were the rhythm in my song! ~ Joan Cartwright