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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 

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.
Sinclair Jazz: 25 Years on the Inside

Sinclair Jazz: 25 Years on the Inside

By David + Malcolm Sinclair

How do you promote jazz photography? How do you showcase tens of thousands of images taken in dark, previously smoky, clubs and concert venues across London and the South East? How do you bring the unique world of jazz to life outside of these clubs?

After David Sinclair had spent 25 years of countless afternoons and evenings capturing images of thousands of jazz and other musicians, we decided in late 2014 that we would like to start to share his work more widely, online, in print, and in public at jazz festivals, arts centres and galleries.
David’s work, as he describes on this new website, commenced with a photograph of the American Dixieland trumpeter Wild Bill Davison in an Arts Centre in Surrey. This quickly led to the Bulls Head in Barnes and then to Ronnie Scotts where he has taken tens of thousands of photographs of international and homegrown jazz greats.
The jazz world comes alive at night. It has always been built around live music, from Bix Beiderbecke to Wynton Marsalis. Bix was a bit before our time, but Wynton on the other hand, well we have a lot of Wynton playing over the years, and even an inside shot, shown here, of his opening of the new Ronnie Scotts in 2006. David’s black and white signature style reflects much of this world for those who were not there at the time, such as the Kenny Wheeler Quartet above at the 606 Club in 2008.
The website will start to share these black & white and colour photographs with a good enough resolution for people to get a feel for how good they look when printed at a decent size. Initially we will place about 300 photographs on the site, then add more each week, mostly linked to short blog pieces.
Many of David’s best known photographs can also been seen on the walls of clubs in London, such as Ronnies, the 606 and Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho.
Go to the Galleries section of this site to see many of these artists in full flow, doing what they do best. We have thousands more and will soon list in the Archive all those artists – in the meantime contact us for anyone you cannot see on here. If they have played in the last 25 years we probably have them.
The main aim of this site, and of Sinclair Jazz, is to share David’s work worldwide. But he has also always sold his photographs for many years. Any picture you see on this site can be clicked on to purchase. We will be developing different merchandise options later in 2015.
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