Archive for January, 2010

In Memory – Ed Thigpen: Toronto, 2003

I met Ed Thigpen backstage a few minutes before he was due to play with Benny Green and Russell Malone at the IAJE International Conference. The atmosphere was very relaxed so I asked him if he had a little time to spare so that I could photograph him, he smiled so I asked him to step over towards the stage manager’s lectern which a little shielded light on it bouncing the light up from the papers on it and made this portrait. We met up again at the Hilton in New York in 2006, it was great to see him, he was as busy as ever and chatted for a while about what we’d been up to – projects, gigs and it was such a pleasure to give him a large print of the picture you see here, he was so pleased and so was I.

A wonderful man and a real Master, we’ll all miss him. Bless.

Ed Thigpen Toronto 2003

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jamie safiruddin quartet debut: cinnamon club bowdon

_MG_4942©William Ellis-1jamies_qt_MG_4947©William Ellis
jamies_qt_MG_4859©William Ellis
This young quartet have lived before I think – the way they play suggests this! Sam Rapley ts, Pete Turner b, Calum Lee d and Jamie playing the grand. Original music by Jamie mixed with some very mature arrangements of material by Bobo Stenson, Pat Metheny, Rogers and Hart and Keith Jarrett gave the gig an engaging pace – and the audience some familiar material whilst maintaining a strong feel in the 2 sets. Jamie chatted between tunes and in the second set explained they would now play something  they meant to play in the first set, they were so in the moment – top man, easily done.

The exuberance was contagious although the place was packed and you could hear a pin drop most of the time, and a few jaws actually. Such a very special atmosphere when people hear young players take off.

jamies_qt_MG_4713©William Ellis
jamies_qt_MG_4832©William Ellisjamies_qt_MG_4845©William Ellisjamies_qt_MG_4831©William Ellisjamies_qt_MG_4895©William Ellis

Fidel Castro: Havana 2002 ( La Habana es Cuba )

I first visited Cuba in December 2002 to photograph at Jazz Plaza Festival and because, for many years, Cuba had always fascinated me with its history and pivotal place in world politics. Hemingway’s connections, Winston Churchill was there in 1885, cigars and rum. Oh and the music, the great music, Dizzy Gillespie visits, Jaco Pastorius played there with John McLaughlin and Tony Williams. Reason enough whatever the right order. No matter. I’d been e-mailing someone there whose details I had been given by a friend months before – and who had given me the impression that he had connections with the festival organisers. Almost at the last minute I found he wasn’t really that close to them – so was, in effect, going on a flyer, no accreditation but I can be persuasive. Everything was booked, the flight, the hotel – I was definitely going.

It was a 10 hour flight and I arrived early evening took the bus to the hotel – La Florida on Obispo, checked in and went out to explore old Havana. I was wired.

Came back and the band were still playing, dancers still dancing in the hotel and I was in the zone.

Next day I walked down to Plaza de Armas to the book stalls, visited a lot of the beautiful buildings and galleries and was heading back to the hotel when I saw crowds in one of the squares, military vehicles, limos and lots of very big security men around.

I knew it would only be for one man – Fidel. I couldn’t believe, waited for around 30 minutes and he emerged from attending a children’s Christmas choir service.

I had the 90 mm on the Leica, not quite Korda and Che Guevara but we do have Fidel being interviewed under the boom mike in a crowd of media and minders. I wish I had been closer but my survival instinct told me it was best not to move around too much – those guys were not going to take any prisoners so near to the Comandante en Jefe.

That was my first day in Havana, I needed a mojito, maybe two

To be continued.

Fidel Castro Havana f2002

Spencer Tunick

Ran into Spencer Tunick a few weeks ago, I’m sure you’re familiar with his amazing works. He was intrigued by the 24 TS-E lens on my 1DS3 with which I was doing a few pictures at my exhibition, it was alot of fun and unexpected pleasure showing him around.

Spencer Tunick © Sam Ellis

Spencer (R) and William © Sam Ellis