Don Weller – famed for his wonderful playing and almost ubiquitous beret – more on that later. I photographed Don during a break in the soundcheck by his big band which featured many of the UK’s finest musicians – including one you can see in the background Peter King, the great alto player chosen to play Charlie Parker’s Grafton sax before it’s auction.

I worked at Brecon Jazz Festival for many years, it was a world class event featuring people like Charles Lloyd, Martin Taylor, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Cobb, Omara Portuondo, Buena Vista Social Club, Mulgrew Miller, Al Foster. Amy Winehouse performed there too – though I couldn’t bring myself to photograph Amy. I’m not quite sure why. She was a talent like no other in my opinion. I never met her, but like a lot of people, I was very conscious of her vulnerability, wearing her heart and soul on her sleeve. I felt she was a comet somehow. Like Hendrix.

Back to Don – I had wanted to do a portrait for a long time and decided to make it a formal one – particularly in terms of lighting. I had in mind the Master – Karsh of Ottawa.

Don spoke about one of the masters of his profession when he kindly shared his One LP – (my ongoing One LP Project – A portrait with a recording that is of great significance to the subject, accompanied by a short interview which explores its meaning and value.

Don being Don, chose two albums, bless him. One by Miles Davis, the other by Dexter Gordon of whom he said – “If I could get a sound like that I’d be over the moon – but then, I’m me really – so I have to put up with me!”

We love putting up with you Don.

I was going through the pictures and thought I’d another couple – Don about to pick up his tenor out of the Steinway, neck strap clip in hand.

DON WELLER91wb© WILLIAM ELLIS

Almost forgot. Back to Don’s headgear. Alan Barnes told me a funny story that day. When he picked Don up that day to drive to Wales he asked Don where his hat was. An innocent question one might think. Don’s wholly unexpected reply – “I don’t always wear the fucking hat!!

Don Weller: One LP

Don Weller

Alan Barnes