Monthly Archives: July 2016

Hugged by a Million Stars

Hugged by a Million Stars

"His photographs are like a kaleidoscope of my life. They are so personal, looking at musicians in a human way, that many photographers don't, as they do it for the image and not the person" - Michael Connarty, formerly Chairman of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Sinclair David (Claire Martin) 55788 Royal Albert Hall 18.11.15

Mari Wilson & Claire Martin with David at the Royal Albert Hall 2015 

So many musicians, journalists, jazz buffs and collectors at last winter’s Royal Albert Hall Exhibition, said that David’s work needs more exposure. But how?

Sinclair David 55770 Royal Albert Hall 18.11.15

Julian Joseph and other visitors to the Royal Albert Hall Exhibition in November 2015

Those that have known him for years will be aware that self-publicity is rarely his style. He turns up at a club, having parked in the nearest blue badge disabled bay, puts his walking sticks aside, takes a few shots, then goes home. It was forever thus. Even this week at Ronnies catching up with old friends from the Average White Band, on one of his rare visits to the Club since a bad car accident, he was again away early.

Our question now is what to do next to promote work that was described last year as “unbelievable photography” and “absolutely inspirational” and “a wonderful legacy” and “you are the best, stunning, emotional, brought back many memories” and, well, every other superlative imaginable?


“If you are trying to be a jazz venue, as long as there are some Sinclairs on the wall then it is a sign of authenticity that you have made it in the jazz world”Simon Cooke, Managing Director, Ronnie Scotts


JONES Elvin 18

Elvin Jones, one of David’s 85+ photographs up on the walls of Ronnie Scott’s

Most of the photographs covering the walls of Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express Jazz and the 606 are David’s. They are likely to be, for years to come, a semi-permanent way of displaying some of his most iconic shots. But they are only about 150 out of more than 50,000 images in his 27 year archive.

As well as in London Clubs, over the last 18 months we have displayed David’s pictures in a number of different venues: in Paris in an exhibition alongside Charles Delaunay drawings for the 80th anniversary of Jazz Hot; in London at the Royal Albert Hall and in Bristol at the Colston Hall at those cities’ respective main Jazz Festivals; and in smaller arty venues such as the Arts Lodge Cafe in Portsmouth, or Bar Chocolat in Bristol.

HARRY "Sweets" EDISON, at Pizza Express, 21-10-96.

Harry Sweets Edison, one of around 50 of David’s images on the walls at Pizza Express Jazz Soho

The feedback from all of these displays, particularly the larger exhibitions, has really taken us aback. What visitors to David’s exhibitions remarked, time and time again, was how he has been able, year after year, since 1989, to find the one shot in a show that is as personally evocative as the music he seeks to represent.

This copyright photograph may be used for PR use only, it can not be used for CD, DVD, Video, Record, Cassette, Poster or any other purpose without specific written permission from the copyright owner, David Sinclair.

Mike Stern, one of David’s images displayed at the 606 Club

The fact that he started this when clubs were poorer lit and smokier than they are now, using for many years 35mm film and then early digital equipment, and did so restricted by his severe physical disabilities, has for many, including scores of musicians and vocalists, made David stand out. Of course, open all hours access to Ronnie Scott’s and almost every other London Club since the 1990s has helped too.


Collectors, including many of the musicians David has photographed, have for years put his images up on their own walls at home or work. Many of the hundreds of visitors to the Royal Albert Hall show wanted us to do more to share his photography with a wider public. Our question now is how? If you came to the show, or know David, or visit these clubs, or just like good photography, please get in touch if you have any ideas:  @ or use the form at the bottom of this post – As David’s son, I do not want Dad’s work to be like the American photographer Vivian Maier, only really discovered years after her death.

WYNTON MARSALIS. Jazz Cafe, 31/7/03.

Wynton Marsalis, one of the most popular of the pictures displayed in Paris in 2015  

Madeline Bell

Madeline Bell, admired by many of the visitors to the Royal Albert Hall, including Madeline herself


One of the last visitors to the Royal Albert Hall wrote in the Visitors Book that it had been “like being hugged by a million stars.” If you have any ideas on how to keep these stars shining bright, do send them through.

“One of the rare photographers who gets to the essence of the music. When you see David’s images you feel that you are part of the music that the artist is performing”John Cumming, Director of Serious & EFG London Jazz Festival


Our thanks go to those who supported recent exhibitions and displays: Ronnie Scott’s, Serious & the EFG London Jazz Festival, Pizza Express Jazz Soho, the 606 Club, the Royal Albert Hall, Bar Chocolat in Bristol, Jazz Hot & Fondaction Boris Vian in Paris, the Arts Lodge in Portsmouth, the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival. Thanks also to photographer Brian O’Connor for recording images at the Royal Albert Hall.RAH Info Board 11 pdf 1 '16

RAH Info Board 2 pdf 1 '16

Two of many supporting displays about David’s work at the Royal Albert Hall 

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