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?
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
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.
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.
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: email@example.com 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.
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.