Archive for the ‘Portrait’ Category

Stan Tracey CBE – National Portrait Gallery, London

Stan Tracey; The Guildhall, Bath, 2003I

Stan Tracey; The Guildhall, Bath, 2003

I’m very proud that this portrait of Stan Tracey ‘Godfather of British Jazz’ has been acquired for the collection of The National Portrait Gallery in London.

It features ( along with Johnny Marr, Miles Davis and Teo Stevenson) in an interview I did with the New Statesman ‘The Art of Portraiture’ written by Rob Pollard.

It’s also on the London Jazzblog along with some more images.

This is an earlier piece on the blog with Stan Tracey.

SOWETO KINCH – JAZZ FM PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Soweto Kinch: Hockley, Birmingham, 6th August 2011

Soweto Kinch: Hockley, Birmingham, 6th August 2011

‘No saxophones were harmed in the making of this picture!

The Photo of the Month for March features one of the new stars of British jazz, saxophonist, rapper, producer and composer Soweto Kinch. Born in London but brought up in Birmingham, Soweto played with Gary Crosby’s Jazz Jamaica All Stars collective before bursting onto the scene with his debut album ‘Conversations With The Unseen’ in 2003. Critics raved about his alto sax playing which echoed greats such as Joe Harriott and Charlie Parker as well as modern masters Greg Osby and Kenny Garrett. Words by Matt Phillips – more at Jazz FM

The shoot was commissioned by Jazz FM for a forthcoming publication and when I asked Soweto where he’d like to be photographed he suggested the site of the annual multi-award-winning ‘The Flyover Show‘ which he heads up in Hockley, Birmingham.

So here we are – we did some closer images but I wanted to show the scale of the flyover itself which was massive and needed an expansive, heroic character to bring it down to size – Soweto! Naturally he said that launching the sax into the air would be the last thing on earth he would think of doing!’

Herbie Hancock – All That’s Jazz: KCET Los Angeles TV

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by Karen at KCET about using some of my images in the Herbie Hancock profile – you can view images and hear interviews with NY based Jimmy Katz and myself here where I talk about the shoots with Herbie, MIles Davis and the wonderful Nancy Wilson.

A very informative and beautifully produced profile of the great man which features Gustavo Dudamel, Quincy Jones and Wayne Shorter – Herbie Hancock: All That’s Jazz – KCET Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock©william_ellis08-3741Herbie Hancock: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 2008

THE NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION – JONAS GWANGWA

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is preparing an exhibition on the great South African musician Jonas Gwangwa and Amandla which will tour his homeland for a year.
I was honoured to recieve a request for the portrait of Mr. Gwangwa in Cape Town 2003 to be included in the presentation.
I was in Cape Town for my first international exhibition hosted by the Cape Town Jazz Festival in a joint show with Jürgen Schadeberg. whose work I have long admired.
My time with Mr. Gwangwa was short, for just a few minutes before his concert when we were literally alone backstage. He spoke to me of his long years in exile during the despicable apartheid regime then seemed to leave me to be with his thoughts and memories.
Jonas Gwangwa: Cape Town, 29th March 2003

Jonas Gwangwa: Cape Town, 29th March 2003

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is preparing an exhibition on the great South African musician Jonas Gwangwa and Amandla which will tour his homeland for a year.

I was honoured to recieve a request for this portrait of Mr. Gwangwa in Cape Town 2003 to be included in the presentation.

I was there for my first international exhibition hosted by the Cape Town Jazz Festival in a joint show with Jürgen Schadeberg. whose work I have long admired.

My time with Mr. Gwangwa was short, for just a few minutes before his concert when we were literally alone backstage. He spoke to me of his long years in exile during the despicable apartheid regime then seemed to leave me to be with his thoughts and memories.

McCoy Tyner – Jazz Fm Photo of the Month

McCoy Tyner: Brecon Jazz Festival, 2002

Each month I have a photo featured on the Jazz FM site. This month I’ve chosen one of the great McCoy Tyner taken during the sound check in the Market Hall at Brecon JF in 2002 with a Leica M6 and 90mm lens.

Brecon is one of my favourite festivals, I find the Brains beer they serve there makes me feel vey clever.

I digress, I don’t often crop images but this was one that I felt would be benefit, the space around McCoy was dark but distracted.

McCoy Tyner: Market Hall, Brecon Jazz Festival 2002
This was taken at the sound check on a Leica with a 90mm lens. I very rarely crop images but this is one i felt would benefit.
I remember it was the 10th of August for some strange reason.
One of the things I love about stage photography is how the lighting on the artist sometimes recreates a feel of the Hollywood look of the film stars of the 40’s and 50’s exemplified by the great British photographer Cornel Lucas.
I organised a masterclass given by him some years ago and will never forget how he subtly used bashers with dimmers to produce exquisite l lighting effects to create the image in his mind.
Many of the master portraitist Jousuf Karsh’s most famous photographs were made with similar lighting arrangements. Jazz master photographer Herman Leonard for a time assisted the great photographer.
The year after on my first visit to NYC in 2003 I was staying in a place just off Time Square,
I picked up The Village Voice from a machine and went straight to the jazz listings – incredible – of course many of the worlds leading players are based in the city.
The one that hit me was McCoy Tyner with Michael Brecker at Iridium, just 5 minutes from where I stood.
To begin the evening I went to Sardis on West 44th, a famous show biz restaurant and bar enjoyed a libation and left for the club.
I was in New York over the weekend enroute for a festival in Toronto I had some prints with me to show there and would you believe it, I had this one and a mounted one of Michael Brecker’s tenor taken at Glasgow JF on a Hasselblad years earlier.
I managed to get myself introduced to the guys backstage had a chat and gave them the prints, i had 2 of this one with me, I don’t know why – must have been for this night , McCoy signed one for me which hangs on the wall.
You can see Mr. Tyner at London Jazz Festival this year.
Words: Matt Phillips and William Ellis
Ready to frame archival prints are available from only £15.00. A3 posters, £17.50 from the online shop.
Free deliveryon all orders placed until 31st January 2011.

Visit Jazz FM to view the feature and listMcCoy Tyner: Market Hall, Brecon Jazz Festival 2002

I very rarely crop images but this is one i felt would benefit.

I very rarely crop an image but I felt this was one that would benefit.

One of the things I love about stage photography is how the lighting on the artist sometimes recreates a feel of the Hollywood look of the film stars of the 40’s and 50’s exemplified by the great British photographer Cornel Lucas.I organised a masterclass given by him some years ago and will never forget how he subtly used bashers with dimmers to produce exquisite lighting effects to create the image in his mind.

Many of the master portraitist Jousuf Karsh’s most famous photographs were made with similar lighting arrangements and jazz master photographer Herman Leonard assisted him for a time which is where I’m sure he acquired some of the skills he used to great effect.

A thought – the year after this was taken I was on my first visit to NYC in 2003 I was staying in a place just off Time Square and picked up The Village Voice from a machine and went straight to the jazz listings – incredible – of course many of the worlds leading players are based in the city.

The one that hit me was McCoy Tyner with Michael Brecker at Iridium, just 5 minutes from where I stood. To begin the evening I went to Sardis on West 44th, a famous show biz restaurant and bar enjoyed a libation and left for the club.

I was in New York over the weekend enroute for a festival in Toronto I had some prints with me to show there and would you believe it, I had this one and a mounted one of Michael Brecker’s tenor taken at Glasgow JF on a Hasselblad years earlier. I managed to get myself introduced to the guys backstage had a chat and gave them the prints, I had 2 of this one with me, I don’t know why – must have been for this night in New York.

You can see Mr. Tyner at London Jazz Festival this year.

Ready to frame archival prints are available from only £15.00. A3 posters, £17.50 from ye olde online shop. Free delivery on all orders placed until 31st January 2011.

Visit Jazz FM to view the feature and listen online.

Christian Scott – Band on the Wall

Christian Scott: Manchester 2010

Christian Scott: Manchester 2010

Christian Scott with Dizzy - the Band on the Wall motif

Christian Scott with Dizzy – Band on the Wall

Christian Scott and I share the same birthday – however he is younger, cooler, more talented and more knowlegdable about music than me – but I still like him!

An incredible player with a beautiful unique tone (made with his beautiful unique horn seen here – photographed with it for the first time I’m told).  I was reminded me of meeting Roy Hargrove in Glasgow in 1992 at a sinilar age on what I think was his first European tour. He was a self-assured, modest, brilliant young musician – who as we know continues to fulfill his great early promise.

Christian Scott too has those qualities, and the instrument has another great young player to help keep it moving. His love of the music, the strong sense of direction he and his band have – and the respect he showed to one of his great predecessors the late Clifford Brown (as he commented on his favourite LP) was both touching and inspirational.

Christian had very kindly agreed to be photographed with his favourite album for the ‘ONE LP’ project, I’m sure you know – a shoot often takes alot of pulling together and I would like thank Malcolm, Simon and Mike at Band on the Wall, Sorcha and Amy at Serious (who helped even in the middle of London JF – their massive main mission at the time) and Martin and Joe – looking after the guys on tour – for making it happen at the sharp end.

A truly memorable gig – catch them next time if you can.

Review from this tour in Birmingham

sndchkChristian Scott_MG_9675©William Ellis

Sound check, l-r - Kris Funn, Jamire Williams, Christian Scott and Matt Stevens

piano Scott_MG_9793©William EllisMr. Lawrence Fields on piano

Mute

Mute

In concert

In concert

The Fabulous Mr. Acker Bilk

I’m playing it now ‘Stranger on the Shore’. I guess we all heard this as children and thought how grown up it sounded and still does, great bass part too. Great to see him still on the road. I saw the band at Brecon JF playing to a sold out Market Hall, great atmosphere and alot of love in the air.

I contacted Les Squires – who takes of things for Acker to arrange a shoot for the ‘One LP’ project and after a little false start we arranged to meet in Crewe where Acker was performing at a charity concert. I was looking forward to meeting him so much – I really didn’t know what to expect.

Backstage I got lost (like you do) and didn’t want to end up as phantom of the opera so I retraced my steps and was escorted to the production office by a charming lady, was given the number of Acker’s room and knocked on the door. I was invited in and began a brilliant half hour in the company of the man with a glint in his eye – and the glorious renegades that are his band.

The maestro himself was ringmaster to some good natured extreme humour along the lines of Pete and Dud.

I’d been photographing all day at the splendid Saxophone Day at the RNCM in Manchester and had driven to Crewe a little fatigued but drove home grinning like an idiot thanks to Mr Acker Bilk and his Buccaneers – thank you gentlemen – and to Les for making it all happen.

The Fabulous Mr. Acker Bilk - Brecon 2010

The Fabulous Mr. Acker Bilk - Brecon 2010

Very Bad Company!

A fine time

Tim Motion – PHOTOGRAPHER

Tim Motion is an old friend I hadn’t seen for years, we arranged to meet at his exhibition at the  Richard Young Gallery in Kensington. He showed me round his superb show with everyone from Ray Charles, Chet Baker Muddy Waters, Gil Evans et al. We loafed around for a while and then I thought I had better take a picture of the great man – he reminds me of a big friendly Irish Wolfhound – I’m sure he’ll laugh if he reads this!

Tim Motion: London, 2010

Tim Motion: London, 2010

EVERYDAY PEOPLE: Spencer Tunick at The Lowry

Spencer Tunick at The Lowry, June 2010 © William Ellis

Spencer Tunick at The Lowry, June 2010 © William Ellis

You may have seen an earlier post about meeting Spencer Tunick last year – he was in Manchester quietely doing a recce for the shoot. The Lowry had commissioned him to create the work to mark the 10th Anniversary of the superb arts venue – an excellent idea which has worked brilliantly for them in every respect and given the gallery a compelling body of work.

At the opening I was struck by the relaxed yet very purposeful feel to the images and how Tunick had captured the spirit of Lowry’s paintings of the people of Salford walking in another age. Exhibition

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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