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Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

A reflection on choosing the photographs for next month’s London show at the Royal Albert Hall: David Sinclair – 25 Years of Jazz Photography – 14/15/20/21/22/28 November 10am-4pm

Note: none of the images shown here are in the exhibition … next week we shall start to preview what is in!

Mussorgy’s original composition of Pictures of an Exhibition was based on ten paintings out of a total of 400 on show by the late Russian painter Viktor Hartmann in St Petersburg in 1874. That many might have been easier to choose than the hundred or so we have space for in the Royal Albert Hall from November 14th 2015. Selecting these out of David’s 50,000 digitised images and thousands of negatives has proved a real challenge.
What matters most in a jazz photography exhibition? The music is too subjective for it to be the ‘best’ musicians? Maybe it should be the ‘greatest’ photographs, but that is pretty subjective as well. Friendships and memories then ….. but after more than 25 years and 5500 artists, there are far too many of these too.
CASSANDRA WILSON. at Royal Festival Hall, 4/5/04.

Cassandra Wilson – one of many great pics we could not include

Sure, there are a few classic images of David’s that have been reproduced many times, and they needed to go in. You can hardly exclude the likes of Sonny, Elvin, McCoy, or Wynton, any more than the naturally photogenic Pharaoh or Esperanza. But we got to the stage of having impossible choices like Cassandra Wilson or Jack Parnell, Elvis Costello or Ernest Ranglin.  In those two cases Jack won out because of history, and Ernest due to his connection though to Gary Crosby and Jazz Jamaica who, if not up on the wall themselves at the Albert Hall, certainly needed some recognition in a London exhibition.

Jimmy Scott – another great pic we could not include

The pictures have all gone to the framers now. Hindsight might have helped us add Coleridge Goode, Phil Woods and Wilton Felder, after their sad deaths in the last couple of weeks. But once you start to pull out great names and even greater characters from the past, where do you stop? We had already taken out the likes of Shorty Rogers, Ornette Coleman, Jack Bruce and Jimmy Scott. Even some great current performers across the spectrum are not included, ranging from Joe Lovano and Charles Lloyd to Liane Carroll and Bobby McFerrin.
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.

Liane Carroll – good friend of David but sadly we could not include this either

As Joe and Liane have been so supportive of David over the years this was a really difficult decision.
But there are still 115 pictures to go up, and we could have displayed 200 if the Albert Hall had enough hanging wires.
David Sinclair. 01883-345790. Intl. (UK) +44 1883 345790

Joe Lovano – another good friend whose picture we could not include

So, if you do visit the exhibition on a weekend in November, maybe ahead of one of the EFG London Jazz Festival gigs later in the day, or just to see the history of jazz over the last quarter of a century, please enjoy those that are there rather than the thousands that are not. After all, a list from 1989-2014 which, as well as those named above, includes the following, just as a taster, ain’t that bad really: Carla Bley, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Dick Morrisey, Max Roach, Anita O’Day, George Shearing, Jimmy Smith, Adelaide Hall, Cecil Taylor ….. and many, many more.

The Exhibition, which has sponsorship from Ronnie Scott’s Club, is open to the general public on 14/15/20/21/22/28 November at the Royal Albert Hall – admission is free. It can also be viewed by all ticket holders attending concerts there from 14-29 November.

Many more of David Sinclair’s photographs can be seen at SinclairJazz website or the Facebook ‘Jazz Photographs’ page on Facebook or via SinclairJazz Twitter

Click for more information on the EFG London Jazz Festival

Thanks to Serious for all their support

From Paris to Pompey – Exhibitions and Le Jazz Hot 80th Birthday


This year is the 80th anniversary of Le Jazz Hot, France’s premier jazz journal and a symbol of the music’s history in Paris and across the country. Now online and free at Jazz Hot – la revue internationale du jazz depuis 1935 Jazz Hot asked David Sinclair and the French poet Serge Baudot to be their patrons for this year’s anniversary.

Serge Baudot (left), Yves Sportis (microphone) & Malcolm Sinclair all commemorating 80 wonderful years of Le Jazz Hot

SinclairJazz had a small exhibition of photographs over the last quarter of century at the magazine’s packed birthday party, held at Le Fond’action Boris Vian in Montmartre at the end of March. That event also featured an exhibition of jazz drawings and writing by Charles Delaunay (1911-88), and commemorative speeches by Yves Sportis of Jazz Hot and Malcolm Sinclair on behalf of David, with poetry from Serge Baudot. Much was said of the history of Jazz Hot, as well as more reflective references to colleagues from Charlie Hebdo.
Jazz Hot’s own video of the event captures its very Parisian feel, with an inimitable Django Reinhardt soundtrack.
YouTube Video ‘Les 80 ans de Jazz Hot’
As so often is the case with David’s photographs, it was his signature black and white pictures that drew the greatest attention, and comparison to Delaunay’s portraits. These included Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and the Kenny Wheeler Quintet.

Some of David’s photographs on show in Paris

Around the walls at Le Fond’action Boris Vian were numerous magazine covers covering the last 80 years. Those from more recent times all had photographs to the fore, many of which have been David’s.

Boris Vian (writer & musician 1920-59) looks down on Jazz Hot covers over the years

As befits Parisian nightlife, the music went on late into the night.

A few of the many musicians who called in to play for Jazz Hot’s 80th anniversaire


Meanwhile, back in the UK, SinclairJazz is also just finishing an exhibition at Portsmouth foremost community arts centre, The Arts Lodge in Victoria Park.
Canvases up in Portsmouth of some of David's most popular photographs

Canvases up in Portsmouth of some of David’s most popular photographs

Framed photographs and canvasses have been on show, of artists ranging from old 35mm photographs including Carla Bley, Al Casey, and Ronnie Scott in the 1990s to some of David’s most iconic images of the likes of Sonny Rollins, Stan Tracey, McCoy Tyner and Charlie Watts.  The Arts Lodge has a very different feel from Le Fond’action Boris Vian, but suits jazz photography just as much.
Some of David's framed photographs on display in the Arts Lodge in Portsmouth, May-June 2015

Some of David’s framed photographs on display in the Arts Lodge in Portsmouth, May-June 2015








Merci Yves et Helene et vos amis a Paris, aussi Marie-Noelle et Gerard Corre. And to Mark Lewis & Violetta Liszka for Portsmouth.

It’s a Wonderful International Jazz World


Sometimes in music, a performance captures the moment. Once such event was the appearance on the jamming stage at 1am Monday 9th March in Bristol, when Lillian Boutté duetted with Pee Wee Ellis, to reprise their Louis Armstrong show rendition of It’s a Wonderful World. Jazz can be the most international of music genres.

Over 50 years ago, Whitney Balliett, the American Jazz Critic, reported on the First International Jazz Festival, in Washington USA*. As in Bristol this year, albeit on a grander scale, that Festival sought to spread the appeal of jazz to a wider public. Back in ’62 there were performances for young audiences, a brass band from New Orleans, dancers, swing bands, the most popular jazz singer of the previous decade, Dinah Washington, and some good old fashioned blues from Howlin’ Wolf. Anyone would have thought that the Bristol Artistic Director, Denny Ilett, was producing back in the day.
What Balliet did not like about the Washington Festival was the lack of enough “good journeyman jazz.” For him, in the capital of the USA, that meant absences of the likes of Hawkins, Mingus, Teagarden, Coleman and Taylor (although any line up which included Monk, Webster, Peterson, Rollins and Ellington was hardy that ropey). Some visitors to the Colston Hall raised similar questions about whether there was enough pure jazz on the Bristol show list this year but, perhaps with the bar slightly lower compared to the heart of America, the local so-called journeymen were in good supply, and for many who passed through our exhibition it was them who made the Festival such a roaring success.
Whilst not the only city outside of London with a thriving jazz scene, Bristol does seem to be going from strength to strength. Ilett, Ellis and Andy Sheppard are at the heart of this when it comes to the now annual festival but, as with any urban centre, it is the week in week out shows that draw in the public and grow local talent, at the likes of the Old Duke, Bebop Club, Hen & Chicken and Future Inn.
From a Sinclair Jazz perspective, Andy Sheppard deserves special thanks for his solo performance to open our exhibition ahead of the Festival. As well as his main weekend performance with Michel Benita, Eivind Aarset and Michele Rabbia, Andy also packed out the Foyer with the Pushy Doctors for a free show. But so did many others, with local acts led by Andy Hague, Kevin Figes and Andy Nowak, amongst others, all being well received, and James Morton’s The Rawness and Katya Gorrie getting the greatest post performance plaudits from our exhibition visitors. Dr John, Evan Christopher and Pee Wee Ellis got the most mentions of the main acts. Seeing the likes of Gary Crosby and Nathaniel Facey popping into the late night jam sessions with numerous local young players just added to the mix.

Setting up to open the exhibition

Sure Bristol is not yet at Cheltenham or Gateshead standards. But the city plans to twin with New Orleans, and with the irrepressible Lillian Boutté championing their joint future, International Jazz & Blues Festival collaboration looks to be on the up and up.
PS to all I met at the Festival, musicians, photographers, jazz fans and potential collectors, thanks for your kind words and encouragement. After the glowing feedback on so many of the photographs, we will be exhibiting more and developing the new website as the centre of what we do. Oscar Peterson was the first to leave the wall, Pee Wee Ellis not far behind. Andy Sheppard and Amy Winehouse the most generally popular pictures, with hardcore jazz fans particularly liking the individual shots of Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, and McCoy Tyner, and the group shots of the Kenny Wheeler Quintet and the Jason Moran Trio.
Malcolm Sinclair March 2015
* Whitney Balliett (2001), A Journal of Jazz 1954-2000, Granta, London
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