Music Films


Documentaries, Music

JB Letchinger loves music, music films, documentaries, videos; his father Irving was a conductor and music teacher, comparable with the mythical “Mr. Holland.” JB has played the piano all his life and is working on the bass. Filming music and musicians is a superb combination of interests, skills and fascinations. This is a partial list of artists worked with, lit, filmed, or taped over the years. Click on the names you’re interested in and check out JB’s anecdotes and links to the music videos, docs and project samples, many specially edited for this website.

Aaliyah * Ajaramu * Rasheed Akbar * Natasha Bedingfield * Beyoncé * Blues Traveler * Bone Thugs * Chris Botti * John Carpenter * George Clinton * Bobby Columby * Dada * Neil Diamond * Chuck D * Bob Dylan * John Fogerty * Steven Foster * Delta Goodrem * Grammys * EmmyLou Harris * House of Large Sizes * Ice Cube * Jawbox * John Jensen * Elton John * The Jonas Brothers * Keb Mo * R. Kelly * Kris Kristofferson * Joe Krown * K.D. Lang * Tommy Lee * Irving Letchinger * Jerry Lee Lewis * Linkin Park * MC Lyte * Maroon 5 * Material Issue * Johnny Mathis * Billy May * Mercury Rev * James Moody * Charles Moore * Ivan Neville * Pantera * Pavement * Itzhak Perlman * Michelle Phillips * Poe * Rebirth Brass Band * Little Richard * David Sanborn * Fred Schneider * Nancy Sinatra * Slash * Sister Machine Gun * Snoop Dogg * Sting * Irma Thomas * Urge Overkill * White Zombie * Wyclef Jean * Yoko Ono

Detailed list follows


Aaliyah, 1993, Music Video, credit: Gaffer
“At Your Best,” – with cameos by R. Kelly – shot in one day in and on top of a parking garage in Chicago. Working with the talented Romeo Tyrone behind the lens. We wrapped at sunrise and used many intense gels and a few big lights. See the clip here:
RIP.

Ajaramu, 1991, Live Video Performance, credit: Producer

AACM founding member and Chicago jazz legend played a wild gig and we recorded in multi-track and shot it on video. Unfortunately no edited record of this was preserved. My interest in recording live music was building.

Rasheed Akbar, 2005, documentary, credit: Director/D.P.

I met Rasheed in New Orleans while shooting a documentary for Equator HD. Our musician story had evaporated (it was one of three segments) and I volunteered to scope out local talent. I found Rasheed playing in front of Preservation Hall and got him in our documentary. After Katrina, I reached out to him and found him surviving in Memphis. He invited me out to “document” the aftermath and what was happening with the musician community there after Katrina. Long story short – I have been working on that project off and on ever since. Rasheed is a great man, a talented musician, articulate and philosophical. Watch a short version of his story. YouTube Preview Image UPDATE: Rasheed is doing well! Contact JB for more information about the documentary project, which may be revived soon in light of new developments with Rasheed’s health.
Natasha Bedingfield, 2006, EPK, credit: D.P. I was hired by Sony Music and Soma Cinematics to D.P. an EPK for Natasha. We were invited to tape her live while she recorded multiple sessions and shoot interviews as well. I was allowed in the vocal booth and quietly shot some takes. Natasha was a great to work with and very talented.

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Beyoncé, 2004, EPK, credit: D.P.
A fashion magazine EPK for broadcast release, we did a short interview with Beyoncé and some B-roll.

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Blues Traveler, 1998, Music Video, credit: 2nd Unit D.P.
After the band wanted a new story-line for their video, their label found a director to reshoot it, Marc Webb. He hired me to lens the new footage, featuring Denise Richards and Jeremy London. Yes, the Bond Girl met the Party of Five star in this video! A kind of love story ensued. Webb went on to direct Spider Man and Denise to marry and divorce Charlie Sheen. Go figure. We had a crane, remote head and a good time shooting this one – 35mm.
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Bone Thugs, 1999 Music Video, credit: D.P.
The Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony were doing some guest artist work on a “We are the World” style video I was working on. I spent an evening with them in the recording studio shooting their vocals and just hanging out. It was a blast. They really can party, lots of food and refreshments abounded.

Chris Botti- 2006, Documentaries and performance, credit: D.P.

I was hired to shoot a making of documentary, shooting at Capitol Records, Studio A. Stunning studio sessions left me amazed at the talent surrounding me. Billy Childs, Botti, Anthony Wilson, Christian McBride, Al Schmidt engineering, Bobby Columby producing, Renee Olstead doing guest vocals. We knew we had something special in this session, but the video was not showing off the true talent of the players. The producers commissioned a live shoot with 5 cameras, to take place in the studio, as an extra to the dual Disc. That was a great shoot, I DP’d, Matt Skerrit directed and we had a blast, brought in lots of light from ELS, focused leicos from all corners of the studio – dimmer board, etc. A few months later, when Chris played at the Wiltern, I was tapped to provide documentary services again in support of the PBS broadcast of the live show and the DVD released later. Watch some of the Chris Botti live session .

John Carpenter, Documentary, 2004, 2013 credit: D.P.

Called in by the Recording Academy (N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) to work on their archival history collection (a project I used to be work on from time to time). I had the pleasure of shooting John Carpenter and hearing all about the evolution of the Carpenters. This was in-depth – over an hour and a half. More recently I had the honor of taping John at his home. Never seen so many platinum records in one spot.

George Clinton, 2012 Documentary, credit: D.P.

Working on a PBS music special, I flew to Florida and shot the legendary Dr. Funkenstein himself. After the interview I rushed a light and a still camera into his studio for a quick portrait. True musical genius. 

Bobby Columby, 2005 Documentary and EPK, credit: D.P.

I was lucky enough to work briefly with Bobby on the Chris Botti project. I went to his house and shot an interview with the pianist on the project: Billy Childs. I also shot him producing at Capitol Records on “To Love Again.”

Dada, 1993, Music Video, credit: Gaffer

Known mostly for their song “I’m going to Dis-knee Land,” I gaffed that video way back when. We put dolly track in a circle and spun the D.P. around and around and around. Fun band! See the video here.

Neil Diamond, 2005, documentary/EPK, credit: D.P.

I was allowed in the studio during the recording of “12 Songs,” with producer Rick Rubin in the house. This was an awesome experience. I literally got chills while listening live. Neil’s management wanted to know “what had happened” – he had only approved 10 minutes of behind the scenes shooting – but had allowed me to tape for almost an hour. Experience pays off.

Chuck D., 1991, Music Video, credit: Gaffer

Working with the intense Prince Akeem in Chicago. Chuck D. flew in and was featured. Powerful voice. See the video here. Loved seeing Chuck at the Grammys in 2013. Reminded him of this shoot and got some back slaps. Great moment.

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Bob Dylan, 2002, EPK, credit: D.P.

I was on set of “Masked and Anonymous” shooting for the movie’s EPK. Got to see one of my heroes in person. He wasn’t too into being photographed in a candid setting, but it was cool anyway.

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John Fogerty, 2006, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

We taped John offstage after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis Live DVD.

Steven Foster, 2005, Documentary, Credit: Director/D.P.

Shooting this event for N.A.R.A.S., we met Steven Foster, jazz educator and musician from New Orleans. Relocated to Memphis, I followed up by doing some interviews with Steven for my own project.

Delta Goodrem, 2004, EPK/extras for Dual Disc, Credit: D.P.

I shot a “making of” video on the set of Delta’s music video.

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Grammy Awards, 2005 through 2016, Documentary, web-video, archives,

Credit: D.P./ Camera Operator

I have been part of the Grammy crew; working with N.A.R.A.S., covering events, rehearsals, and interviews over the entire week. They set me loose to work literally on the red carpet in ’06, through 2016. I’ve been shooting the Grammy Red Carpet for 10 YEARS. wow. Watch new clip Watch an old clip here – I. Some of my past favorite moments were meeting Ringo Starr, Alain Touissant, Dr. John and watching U2 rehearse live. In 2016 the fire marshal finally booted us out, end of an era. This year I figured, time to move on to other projects!

 

Emmylou Harris, 2007, live performance, Credit: Camera Operator

I came onboard to operate on an Emmylou live show at the Derby in Los Angeles. 9 HD cameras. That’s the way to shoot live! A BBC director/DP team came out for this. What a voice! I realized she recorded backups on one of my favorite Dylan albums: “Desire.”

House of Large Sizes, 1994, Music Video, Credit: D.P.

I went to Iowa with Paul Andresen to shoot this cool band in the middle of winter. Almost ditched the van on the way back to Chicago. See the video here.

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Ice Cube, 2004, Network Promo, Credit: D.P.

Ice Cube came out to plug one of his movies on Comedy Central. Cool is the word. No wonder his name is Cube. Watch his piece in my reel here: promo reel

John Jensen, 1983-1987, Credit: student

John was my second piano teacher and left an indelible impression on me. He is still going strong. Moved to Minnesota. I would not be playing blues and jazz today if not for John.

Elton John, 2005, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

I flew to Las Vegas to shoot Elton John and his band recording music for an ABC television show. He was working on the “Red Piano” stage at Caesar’s Palace. I went up and back twice over a 3 day period. Elton Rocks!

The Jonas Brothers, 2005, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

I spent 3 days with the Bros. shooting them before they got known. The label and their management wanted a behind the scenes documentary – kind of a making the band project. We shot live performances, rehearsals, meals, meetings, driving around Los Angeles, lots of fun. Congrats to them on their recent success!

Jawbox, 1994, Music Video, Credit: D.P.

Cool band with an interesting sound. We used mirrors and other things. Watch youtube video here: Cooling Card

Keb Mo, 2005, Documentary/ Performance in studio, credit: D.P.

Keb is a modern blues man. I’m convinced he’s tapped into the blues spirit and has spent time at the legendary crossroads. His presence and music were both wonderful. We interviewed him and shot video of a live performance. view a part of the project here.

R. Kelly, 1993-4, Music Videos, Credit: Gaffer

The phenomenon that is R. Kelly. I was at the right place and got hired to gaff 2 videos for R. – Watch the video for Bump N Grind here If you can find “Summer Bunnies” – banned from MTV – I gaffed that also. He also appeared in Aaliyah’s “Let me Know,” another gaffer credit.

 

Kris Kristofferson, 2006, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

We taped Kris offstage after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis Live DVD.

Joe Krown, 2005, Documentary, Credit: CoProducr – D.P.

Joe was helped by Musicares in New Orleans after Katrina. We taped some of his story at his house there. Joe is a great piano player and I have become a fan. His CDs “New Orleans Piano Rolls” and “Old Friends,” are in heavy rotation on my ipod. Check out his website here.

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K.D. Lang, 2003, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

K.D. was close with Peggy Lee and for the PBS documentary project: “Fever -the Music of Peggy Lee,” we interviewed K.D. Lang at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.

Tommy Lee, 2006, Promotional web video, Credit: D.P./crew service

Tommy and his “Rock Star Supernova” band came out to a green screen set I lit and I shot them for their Sony BMG website intro.

Irving R. Letchinger, 1965-2002, Documentary,

Live Performance/Life, Credit: Son

When my father got back into conducting after retiring for many years, it was a great opportunity for me to begin taping and filming his performances. He rallied after recovering from a heart attack at the age of 88 – and decided to go to Vegas – of all places. This struck a chord in me, and I felt it was a documentary opportunity I could not pass up. Watch some of the new “My Life in Music” documentary – taken from the documentary film also online: “Taking Chances with Irving.”

Jerry Lee Lewis, 2006, Documentary, EPK, Performance,

Credit: D.P./addl. D.P.

I jumped at the chance to shoot Jerry Lee Lewis playing in studio (Phillips Studio) in Memphis. This led to a second trip to Memphis – the Lewis Ranch and shooting a few more days in L.A. Jerry Lee is one of a Kind, that is for sure. View some of the Jerry Lee Lewis live session from that first trip and view some of the Jerry Lee Lewis documentary here 

Linkin Park, 2010, Channel 4 special. Credit: Camera Operator

I got a last minute call to come to Paramount and shoot a mulitcamera live performance with Linkin park. Rigged some HD lipstick cameras off the drum kit and DJ table. Dolly moves. Good show, great band.

Itzhak Perlman, 2012, Documentary, credit: D.P.

Our crew loaded into Julliard, lit Mr. Perlman’s office and shot a wonderful interview with him for a PBS show on Classical Music. He was kind enough to let me play his piano afterwards.

 

MC Lyte, 1999, Independent Film, and EPK Credit: D.P.

It was a pleasure working with “Lyte” on the film: “A Luv Tale. “Lyte” also hired me to shoot some community events for an EPK.

Marroon 5, 1995, EPK, Credit: D.P.

I shot an EPK for broadcast release, we did an interview with the band and some B-roll.

Material Issue, 1993, Music Video, Credit: Gaffer

I gaffed a couple videos for this band. RIP Jim Ellison. Watch youtube video here: What Girls Want

Johnny Mathis, 2005, Documentary/EPK, Credit: D.P.

Sony’s production company had me go to a studio in the valley where Johnny was recording and shoot behind the scenes. I got to tape a live vocal track, standing with him in the booth. Also got to shoot some of the full orchestra in the studio. Both were a treat. Getting paid to shoot music, getting in the middle of an orchestra and hearing great vocals live and unamplified, that’s a real treat. Also went to Johnny’s house for an HDNET/PBS/ Sony doc shoot. Nice indoor pool!

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Billy May, 2003, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

Billy had some great stories for us when he interviewed him for the PBS documentary: “Fever – the Music of Peggy Lee.” He passed away soon after our interview. RIP Mr. May.

Mercury Rev, 1992, Music Video, Credit: Gaffer

Way out band with big European following. Wild concept. Watch youtube video here: Car Wash Hair

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James Moody, 2003, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

Called in by the Recording Academy (N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) to work on their archival history collection (a project I’ve done many days for). I had the pleasure of shooting James Moody and hearing all about his career in music. This was in-depth – over an hour and a half.

 

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Charles Moore, 2005, Documentary, Credit: Director/D.P.

Shooting a live benefit performance in Memphis for N.A.R.A.S. and Musicares, I met Charles Moore, musician from New Orleans. He had relocated to Memphis after Katrina. I followed up by doing some interviews with Charles for my own project: “Survivors.” Watch Charles playing live, and check out a few minutes of his conversations with me from the “Survivors” project.

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Ivan Neville, 2005, Documentary/EPK, Credit: D.P.

We taped Ivan in another studio, after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis Live DVD. We provided a documentary crew to shoot simultaneous to the main performance crew on a nearby studio in the Jim Henson studios. (Formerly A and M records, formerly the Chaplin Studios in Hollywood.)

 

Urge Overkill, 1993, Music Video, Gaffer
I went to Miami to work on this for 2-3 days. Couldn’t say no. We had a great time with Urge. Too bad they went away, but they ROCKED. Power pop.

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Pantera, 1993, Live Music Video, Credit: Gaffer

Unbelievable live show. Crazy! Got hassled by the hard-core roadies on Pantera’s crew. Rigged some hot lights at the Riviera, I believe it was, in Chicago. The crowd found some of our dimmer cables and unplugged them, had to operate them by hand back-stage! Check out the stage diving – hang on and see the youtube video already watched 26 MILLION times, available here: WALK!

Pavement, 1995, Music Video, credit: D.P.

I had a blast working with Pavement and the Drag City directors. Kind of an “anti-MTV” aesthetic. With all the rock on my reel at the time, what they liked was a student film I had shot in a very naturalistic way. Go figure. Cameo by Veruca Salt. Watch youtube video here: Painted Soldiers

Michelle Phillips, 2005, 2008 Documentary, Credit: D.P.

For the PBS documentary: “Fever – the Music of Peggy Lee,” we interviewed Michelle at her home and at a studio. I recently returned for another PBS project. Great lady.

Poe, 1994, Music Video, credit: Gaffer

I gaffed 2 videos in a week for Poe. Only one was released, the still on the right is from the unreleased version of “Hello.” Watch video here: Trigger Happy Jack

Rebirth Brass Band, 2005, Documentary, D.P./Director

Rebirth had the courage to return to New Orleans and face their devastated stomping grounds.
They paraded through the streets just weeks after New Orleans was opened up after Katrina.

Their music brought cheer and hope back to the locals and I was happy to be there to shoot it.

Little Richard, 1994, Network Promo, Credit: GafferLittle Richard was doing a promo in Chicago for a T.V. show. He was singing and playing the piano. I asked him to show me some licks. He told me I should show him some. Funny guy.

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David Sanborn, 2005, Documentary/EPK, Credit: D.P.

David was part of the Chris Botti live performance shoot at Capitol Records. I watched him make spot repairs on his sax with some kind of soldering iron. He sounded great.

Fred Schneider, 1995, Music Video, Credit: D.P.

From the B-52’s to Chicago – Fred’s solo album with Steve Albini was a trip. I shot this video just outside of Chicago in Black and White. Paul Andresen directed. Watch the video here.

Nancy Sinatra, 2003, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

For the PBS documentary: “Fever – the Music of Peggy Lee,” we interviewed Ms. Sinatra at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.

Sister Machine Gun, 1992, Music Video, credit: Gaffer

Shot in the wonderful (though closed) Uptown theater, this dilapidated old movie palace provided the perfect backdrop for this band. We had a skeleton crew of learning electricians but we lit this theater so many different ways in one day. Watch the youtube video here: Not My God

Slash, 2007, Documentary, Credit: D.P.

Musicares (a part of N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) produced a drug and alchohol awareness video which Slash and others were part of just last year.

Snoop Dogg, 2006, Web Video, Credit: D.P.

Shot Snoop for a ESPN online game show pilot. He got every answer right. Right-on Dogg.

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Sting, 2005, Documentary/EPK, Credit: D.P.

I shot Sting backstage in support of the PBS/HDNET broadcast and Sony Music DVD of Chris Botti’s live show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.

Irma Thomas, 2005, Documentary, Credit: D.P.
Irma was helped by Musicares in the Gulf Coast after Katrina. We taped some of her story at her home.

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White Zombie, 1992, Music Video, credit: Gaffer
This video rocked and launched the production company into the next league. We did lightning effects without lightning strikes, also great art direction on a shoestring budget.

Wyclef Jean, 2007, Documentary/EPK, Credit: D.P.
Shot behind the scenes of his video with Sun for “Chinawine.”
Yoko Ono, 2010, Documentary/Grammy Museum Archives, credit: Lighting Director/D.P
I was called in to make sure Yoko looked great. The set was prelit by a talented DP friend of mine, but needed me to be there before Yoko arrived. I then tweaked the lighting to make her glow and her entourage happy. She now uses the diagram I did to show other crews what she likes.

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