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.

Jimi Hendrix: Photographs by Gered Mankowitz. Exhibition opened by Johnny Marr

Jimi Hendrix was one of the most gifted and influential musicians of the 20th century. I think had he lived he would gone on to be a kind of Duke Ellington figure. Gered’s show entitiled ‘Jimi Hendrix: The Mason’s Yard Sessions 1967 – Remastered’ is at the Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester until 5th March 2011. The site has an in-depth description of the work and how it was produced.

I first met Gered around 10 years ago when he was giving a talk on his work with Jimi, the Stones and many other major artists at Focus on Imaging when I was working with Hasselblad. We became friends and the company became involved in some interesting projects with him.

Gered has done a wonderful job of reinterpreting many of his stunning images of Jimi and there is still an important presence of the superb original black and white portraits. These helped to define Jimi’s image at the time and even more significantly reflect the warmth and humour of a wonderfully talented young man about to make his mark on the world.

Johnny Marr opened the exhibition with some very interesting and appreciative points about Jimi – and Gered’s truly iconic images of course. He also revelaed that when he was invited by VOX the famous amplifier manufacturer to endorse their products, Johnny was asked who he would like to do the photo shoot – he requested Gered Mankowitz…

Richard Goodall, Johnny Marr and Gered Mankowitz during the opening

Richard Goodall, Johnny Marr and Gered Mankowitz during the opening

Johnny and Gered

Johnny and Gered

Richard, Johnny, Gered and guest Noddy Holder

Richard, Johnny, Gered and guest Noddy Holder

A superb source of information on the great man – Jimi Hendrix Record Guide

New Brighton CA

These were taken as I walked from the Floral Pavilion to the Royal Hotel for something to eat after the final rehearsal/sound check of the Django Suite concert just before the performance. New Brighton has that LA film noire feel at night. It was so unbelievably cold, I didn’t have my 24 TSE with me so these were done with 24-70/2.8, the tripod was in the boot of course (with my nice warm hat snuggled up to it). If there was a prize on offer for being consistently unnecessarily uncomfortable it would have name on it. These were taken hand held of course at ridiculous film speeds. Must go back with the right gear sometime, anyway, when I left the hotel it was warmer somehow and a heavy fog had fallen, big ships on the Mersey were sounding their horns in the murk (or perhaps it was Barnesy’s bari) which added to the ominous movie set feel.

wNew Brighton_MG_9980©William Ellis

New Brighton_MG_9973©William Ellis

New Brighton_MG_9990©William Ellis

New Brighton_MG_9993©William Ellis

New Brighton_MG_9997©William Ellis

‘Keeper of the Flame’ – Modern Jazz in Manchester, 1946 – 1972 by Bill Birch: Cinnamon Club launch

Straight after the ‘Spirit of Django concert I drove to the Cinnamon Club in Bowdon to attend the launch of Bill Birch’s new book ‘Keeper of the Flame’ with foreward by Don Rendell. Bill’s experience in the printing world has helped him to publish the definitive work of the highest production values on a fascinating subject which has not been covered comprehensively until now. You can get the more information on this superb book here in a synopsis on Jazz Clubs Worldwide.

I have never met anyone quite like Bill, first time at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester (built behind the facade of the Free Trade Hall where many gigs took place and where I went to my first – Black Sabbath in around 1972 – and this is where Dylans’s ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall was actually recorded) at a Jeremy Sassoon gig where his enthusiasm and knowledge on the Club 43 and the Manchester jazz scene were simply not containable by any vessel known to man – except for that wonderful invention – the book. I only look at the superb pictures – the text is already embedded in my mind – Bill told me the story of how it all happened in Manchester in a few breathless minutes as he showed me the print proofs and told me how he had spent so much time at the printers directing everything down to the ink mix for his labour of love.

Pretty well every major artist in jazz appears in this book on and off stage giving a fascinating into life on the road – including Billie Holliday at The Midland Hotel after her concert – with the late night familiar view of no food available but perhaps a little drink. As I mentioned earlier the print quality is first class especially bearing in mind that many images are from vintage prints and not in first class condition.

There are many atmospheric images – it’s hard to tear myself away to write this with great work in view by the boss –  Terry Cryer, – Sefton Samuels, Brian Foskett, Brian Lawton, Malcolm Carling, Peter Vacher and so many other talented photographers who keep the flame alive and bright.

There was music of course with a bebopping band you see here lead by the very Iain Dixon. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that, Mike Walker’s very dry humour is spreading by osmosis.

Some night – some book!

Signed book – £@25.00 + £5.50 UK PP  order form – go on!

Cinnamon Club on Facebook

Mr. Bill Birch

Mr. Bill Birch

Bill with guests

Bill with guests

Neil Hughes of the Cinnamon Club (right) and actor Phil Hackland of 'Shameless'

Neil Hughes of the Cinnamon Club (right) and actor Phil Hackland of 'Shameless'

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0241©William Ellis

The Band (Les Chisnall to left of Dave Green)

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0221©William Ellis

Caroline Boaden

Frank Toms

Frank Toms

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0200©William Ellis

Iain Dixon

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0263©William Ellis

Jack Massarik

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0254©William Ellis

Mike Farmer

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0242©William Ellis

Peter Maguire

A few words from Bill Birch

A few words from Bill Birch

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

‘The Spirit of Django Suite’ – World Premiere

Been very busy. Last week at the London Jazz Festival – including ‘Strayhorn the songwriter at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the colossus Sonny Rollins at the Barbican. I photographed  3 superb musicians kindly having their portrait taken as part of my One Lp project, (in order of shoots) Acker Bilk at the Lyceum, Crewe, Christian Scott at the Band on the Wall Manchester and Martin Taylor at the impressive Floral Pavilion Theatre, New Brighton where he was the soloist playing Guy Barker’s specially composed for him – lucky chap – ‘Spirit of Django Suite.’

The piece was commissioned by the excellent International Guitar Festival on the Wirral with support from The Arts Council.

Onstage were around 40 other world class players, split approximately half and half – members of the Liverpool Phil and Guy Barker’s Jazz Orchestra – including the ‘Spirit of Django’ ensemble and the wonderful Alison Burns. If I could describe the sumptious sounds of music I would be a writer not a smudger – there has to be a recording made, please.

I like New Brighton, it’s like LA only much cooler, temperature wise that is, we used to go there as a family when I was a kid to the outdoor swimming pool, sadly gone now. I’m not saying that the water was cold but I often saw killer whales and a remote control model of the Titanic on a doomed mission to cross the vast horizonless abyss. People were much more robust then, unfiltered cigarettes and fun (and not a single Parr in sight) – though I do recall spending most og the time trying to avoid being thrown into the icy brine by a juvenile – my Dad.

New Brighton and Blackpool are the places where I first became aware of photography, a shiny camera and little boxes of film were quietly taking up residence in my tiny mind.

Back to the concert –

The composer conducts

The composer conducts

Jack Emblow's

Jack Emblow's

Rehearsal

Rehearsal

Spirit of Django_MG_9858©William Ellis

Guy Barker and Martin Taylor after the final rehearsal

Guy Barker and Martin Taylor after the final rehearsal

The Spirit of Django

The Spirit of Django

Spirit of Django_MG_0120©William Ellis

Introducing Alison Burns

Spirit of Django_MG_0109©William Ellis

The full ensemble - sublime

Guy_Martin ©William Ellis

EMPIRICAL WIN MOBO AWARD IN LIVERPOOL

Last night in Liverpool my friends Lewis, Nathaniel, Shaney and Tom aka Empirical won the MOBO for best Jazz ‘Act’. I have the hangover from hell – don’t remember taking this picture but I found it in my camera today. I have to go sleep now. More to follow. Well done gentlemen!

Empirical collect their MOBO Award at Liverpool Echo Arena

Empirical collect their MOBO Award at Liverpool Echo Arena

The guys with Simon from Naim label, Danielle - 'The Management' and Julian Siegel who guested on the album Out 'n' In

The guys with Simon from Naim label, manager Danielle and Julian Siegel (drinking moderately as we all did) who guested on the album Out 'n' In

Brecon Jazz 2010

Sarah Dennehy and her team brought to Brecon a program which help create an atmosphere of hopes realised from pretty well every style of ‘jazz’ on earth – from Acker B to Rachel Z via Pee Wee, BVSC et al. The relaxed feel to the Christ College environs with seating, shade under a 200 year old oak tree thoughtfully hired in for the occasion couple with good food and drink at reasonably prices from sustainable sources. This certainly gave the boat a good shove for a weekend of joy well away from the briney. In the land of song a man with a lamb burger in one hand and a pint of the foaming in the other is king, or at least Prince of Wales. Incidentally if you wish to purchase any prints from wales please visit ellisvisuals. I stayed out at Glasbury again, frighteningly close to the River Café where I managed to relax for a few minutes one evening.I’ve never been to a gig at 11.00am in all my born days as it simply did not compute – still can’t believe it happened, until I look at the pictures of Scott Hamilton and his band playing wondrously well to a full market hall at the said time. A great start to the day where later Idania Valdes and Papi Oviedo from Buena Vista Social Club brought sweet scents from Havana, beauty, rum and cigars carried in an enthralling concert anticipating the appearance of the Omara Portuondo – a singer who says so much in a single glance.

Peter King

Peter King

Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela
Keith Tippett
Keith Tippett
Julie Tippett

Julie Tippett

Erik Truffaz

Erik Truffaz

Pee Wee Ellis - Funk Brother

Pee Wee Ellis - Funk Brother

Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton

Idania Valdes Casuro

Idania Valdes Casuro

Papi Oviedo

Papi Oviedo

Hugh Masekela and the Chicago's Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Hugh Masekela and the Chicago's Hypnotic Brass Ensemble