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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click for more information on the EFG London Jazz Festival
Thanks to Serious for all their support