jazzcamera.co.uk: music photography by John Watson
News & Features

Christian and Kamasi power Cheltenham

Kamasi Washington solos with his powerful band at the 2018 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watosn/jazzcamera.co.uk

The magnificent Christian McBride Big Band, powerful R&B-influenced saxophonist Kamasi Washington, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran and sophisticated saxophonist Donny McCaslin were among the highlights of the 2018 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The festival, held mainly in marquees in the Cotswold town's Montpelier Gardens, with other concerts in the Town Hall and the Parabola Arts Centre, drew record crowds of more than 30,000 fans during a bank holiday weekend heatwave.

Leading UK artists in the festival included saxophonists Andy Sheppard, Courtney Pine and Evan Parker, swing group Kansas Smitty's House Band, and progressive groups Enemy, Portico Quartet, Vein and Roller Trio.  A host of pop and soul stars at the festival included China Moses, Randy Crawford, Imelda May and Beth Hart, plus classical violinist Nigel Kennedy in a tribute to the music of Jimi Hendrix.




Christian McBride with his Big Band at Cheltenham. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk 

Special exhibitions and photography workshop for festival

African bass player Richard Bona, by John Watson, part of a special exhibition at the 2018 Ipswich  Jazz Festival. Photo copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk


A special exhibition of  jazz photography by John Watson will be staged as part of the 2018 Ipswich Jazz Festival in Suffolk in June, and he will also be running a workshop in Creative Music Photography at the festival.

Watson's work is also featured as part of an international exhibition, Jazz World Photo, in Krasnodar, southern Russia, throughout April. The exhibition moves to Mariinsky Palace in St Petersburg from April 28-30, to mark International Jazz Day (30th).

And Watson will have a solo exhibition at the Culture Centre, Pancevo, Serbia, during this year's Pancevo Jazz Festival in November.

The Ipswich festival exhibition - The Jazz Moment - runs from June 22 to July 7 at the Sub Arts Gallery, 21 St Peter's Street, Ipswich.

The photography workshop will be held on Sunday June 24 at St Peter's By The Waterfront. 

The 2018 festival is held from June 22-24, with performances - by artists including singers Ian Shaw and Jacqui Dankworth - at St Peter's By The Waterfront. To book tickets for the concerts and the workshop, click here: www.ipswichjazzfestival.org.uk

Watson's work was also shown in a joint exhibition with Alan Ainsworth as part of the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival, a show which won acclaim from its many visitors.

The exhibition, featuring images of jazz legends and rising stars, was held at The Gallery, Clerkenwell, in November.  Among the artists pictured in the exhibition were Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, Chick Corea, Roy Haynes, Stanley Clarke, Carla Bley, Jan Garbarek, Joe Lovano, James Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Mark Lockheart, Laura Mvula, Neil Cowley, Youn Sun Nah and Hiromi.

John Watson contributes to many print and online magazines including Jazz Journal, Jazzwise and London Jazznews, as well as national newspapers and international publications. His book 'The Power Of Jazz' won international critical praise. He has been nominated for photography three times in the JJA Jazz Awards in New York.



Glorious Lovano in 20th Pancevo festival

Joe Lovano on the opening night of the 20th Pancevo Jazz Festival, Serbia. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

The magnificent American saxophonist Joe Lovano thrilled the crowds on the opening night of the 20th Pancevo Jazz Festival in Serbia, where he appeared with his Classic Quartet. There was also a strong performance from fellow US saxophonist Tim Berne's Snakeoil, with superb percussion from Ches Smith. The festival featured a host of great artists, including trumpeter Avishai Cohen with his quartet, Serbian band Fish In Oil, singer China Moses, Daniel Erdmann's Velvet Revolution, and superb American trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with his quartet. John Watson's full report on the festival is coming soon on London Jazznews.



Ambrose Akinmusire - a stunning set from his quartet closed the 2017 Pancevo Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk 

Storm Marius and an Italian Inferno sweep into Belgrade

Francesco Bearzatti with Inferno - a thrilling show at the 2017 Belgrade Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset, with a superb quartet completed by drummer Anton Eger, pianist Ivo Neame and bassist Michael Janisch, gave a stunning performance at the Belgrade Jazz Festival. His show, at the Dom Omladine concert centre, was a highlight in the early days of the festival, which opened on October 26 and runs until October 30. Neset's immaculate technique on tenor and soprano, and his thrilling expressiveness, is one of the great joys of the current international jazz scene. But the quartet's extraordinary interplay, driven with awesome power by Eger's intense percussion, made the gig an unforgettable one. 

Equally unforgettable was the performance of pianist Giovanni Guidi's intense group Inferno, with magnificent soloing from the leader and from saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti.

Other highlights in the festival included Serbian group Eyot, with special guests trumpeter Pete Judge and saxophonist Jake McMurchie from UK group Get The Blessing; pianist Jan Lundgren with bassist Mattias Svesson and a string quartet in a tribute to the late Jan Johansson; Danish guitarist Jakob Bro with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Barron; and - in a delightful warm-up set for visitors in the Dom Omladine lobby - Belgrade student pianist Katarina Kochetova's KK Trio.

The festival wrapped up with a dynamic show by Ameerican saxophonist Donny McCaslin at the Sava Centar, and with Serbian groups including Ascension, led by Sanja Markovic, at Dom Omladine.

More details of the festival: www.bjf.rs



Anton Eger with Marius Neset's quartet in Belgrade. Photography copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Gibbs triumphs on 80th birthday tour

Michael Gibbs conducting his orchestra. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Michael Gibbs, who many regard as the greatest living jazz composer and arranger, won extensive critical praise a special 80th birthday tour, including six dates in the UK.

Gibbs and his orchestra were heard at the Scarborough Jazz Festival in Yorkshire on September 24, at the Vortex in London on September 25, the Watermill Jazz Club in Dorking on September 26, back at the Vortex on September 27, the CBSO Centre in Birmingham on September 28, and at the Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton on September 29.

The line-up of the UK orchestra included pianist and fellow composer Hans Koller, trumpeters Henry Lowther and Percy Pursglove, saxophonists Jason Yarde and Julien Siegel, guitarist Mike Walker and drummer Andrew Bain.

Michael also directed the NDR Big Band in Hamburg, Germany, on September 22, and is to appear with vibes master Gary Burton and guitarist Bill Frisell in a special birthday concert at Berklee in Boston, USA, on October 19.



Academy chooses Jazzcamera photography

Jason Yarde - one of the Academy's Jazz Executive Committee members. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

BASCA - the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors - has chosen John Watson of jazzcamera.co.uk as a recommended photographer. 

The Academy's Jazz Executive Committee has many leading performers and composers, including Mark Lockheart, Issie Barrett, Ed Puddick, Emily Saunders, Alex Webb and Jason Yarde.  

BASCA spokesman Wesley John said: "Since our beginnings in 2014 the Jazz Executive Committee of BASCA has gone from strength to strength. We've had a presence at the London Jazz Festival, the Love Supreme Festival, featured at the Jazz FM Awards, and organised a successful 'Composers in Conversation' with Guy Barker, Colin Towns and Zara McFarlane. 

"BASCA is an independent professional membership association representing music writers and composers of all genres. One of our recent and on-going campaigns is to fight for an increase in royalties earned from digital services, and also for a higher proportion of advertising income from digital platforms such as YouTube."

John Watson said: "I am honoured and delighted to be chosen by BASCA as a recommended photographer, and I'm very much looking forward to collaborating with members of the academy on a range of projects."

For more information about BASCA, click here: www.basca.org.uk


Rising stars and legends in London Jazz Gallery

Trilok Gurtu in action with the Jan Garbarek Group at the Royal Festival, London. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

John Watson's images of a host of international artists, ranging from rising stars like singer Elina Duni and saxophonist/singer Haken Kornstad to jazz legends including Jan Garbarek, Jim Hall, Stanley Clarke, Charles Lloyd, John McLaughlin, Sheila Jordan and Chick Corea, can be found in the Jazzcamera 'London Jazz Gallery'.


Giants of jazz in special gallery

Chet Baker, one of the legendary musicians featured in the new Jazz Gallery Birmingham - see the link on the left. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk. All rights reserved.

John Watson writes:

I began my work as a jazz photographer by taking shots of Chet Baker at the Rep Theatre in Birmingham, and over the years I've photographed musicians at many venues in the city. I thought it was time I featured some of these giants of jazz in a special gallery on jazzcamera.co.uk. Artists featured include Gil Evans, Wayne Shorter, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Eberhard Weber, Oscar Peterson, Jan Garbarek, Esjborn Svensson, John Surman, Pat Metheny and Dave Holland.

My sincere thanks go to the promoters and press officers who provide access for photography at venues including Symphony Hall, Town Hall, the CBSO Centre, Mac, the Adrian Boult Hall and to organisations including Jazzlines and Birmingham Jazz.

Some of the artists featured are no longer with us, including Chet, but their music lives on in their recordings and in the memories of fans who were lucky enough to hear them live. 


Jazz Impressions prints

Title: Blue Impressions Copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk.

A new series of stunning high resolution prints of John Watson's photographs is now available from www.jazzcamera.co.uk. The prints can be supplied on high quality photographic paper ready for framing, or on rigid PVC board. The series features impressionistic photographs taken at major festivals and venues.

The first prints in the series can now be seen by clicking on the link on the left: 'New! Jazz Impressions prints'.

The Power of Jazz chosen for national collection

John Watson's critically-acclaimed photography book The Power Of Jazz has been chosen by The National Jazz Archive for its permanent collection.

The archive includes more than 4,000 books, journals, letters, programmes and the personal collections of such leading figures as Mike Westbrook, Ian Carr and Charles Fox.  The archive, based in Loughton, Essex,  can be visited in person or on line at www.nationaljazzarchive.org.uk.

The new, updated softback edition of  The Power of Jazz has won rave reviews in leading jazz magazines.

In Jazzwise magazine, writer Peter Vacher describes the book as 'an impressive tribute to Watson's ability to get up close and personal, to capture the moment and to delight in experimentation. Unreservedly recommended.'

In Jazz Journal magazine, writer Fred Grand says: 'With a combination of technical prowess and a passion for jazz, Watson produces images that are invariably pregnant with the atmosphere and energies of the moment. Treasure packed and highly compulsive.'

The Power Of Jazz  can be viewed on line and bought exclusively at:


Enter 'The Power Of Jazz' into the search box.

READ THE REVIEWS:  Click on the link on the left 'Rave reviews for the new book'

Three U.S. Jazz Awards nominations

Carla Bley by John Watson - nominated as Jazz Photo Of The Year in the JJA Jazz Awards in New York

John Watson of jazzcamera.co.uk was nominated for photography in the JJA Jazz Awards in the USA for this shot of pianist-composer Carla Bley. It was the third successive year that he had been nominated in the 'Jazz Photo Of The Year' category of the awards, which are organised in New York by the Jazz Journalists Association.

On Location

Locations for the music photographs in the galleries include:

New York: Village Vanguard, 7th Avenue South; Jazz Standard, East 27th Street;

Garage, 7th  Avenue South; Arturo's, West Houston Street, Greenwich Village

Tokyo: Bar the 16s, Shiba Park

Belgrade, Serbia: Dom Omladine, Sava Centar concert Hall, Belgrade Jazz Festival

Pancevo, Serbia: Kulturni Centar

Skopje, Macedonia: Universal Hall, City Hall Centre , Skopje Jazz Festival


London: Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, The Barbican, Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London Jazz Festival, BBC Studios, Maida Vale, Jazz Cafe

Birmingham: Symphony Hall, Town Hall, CBSO Centre, Adrian Boult Hall, mac arts centre, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Pizza Express Live, 1000 Trades

Bristol: Colston Hall, Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival

Gateshead, Tyne and Wear: The Sage concert halls, Gateshead International Jazz Festival

Cheltenham: Everyman Theatre, Town Hall, Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Ipswich: New Wolsey Theatre, St Peter's By The Waterfront, Ipswich Jazz Festival

Wales: Brecon Jazz

Isle of Wight: Jazz Divas Festival

Coventry: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry Jazz Festival

Lichfield: Guidhall, Lichfield Cathedral, Garrick theatre, Lichfield Jazz and Blues Festival

Wolverhampton: Arena Theatre

Nottinghamshire: Bonington Theatre, Arnold

Derby: The Voicebox


Locations for the landscapes in the "Exhibitions" gallery include:

United States, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Norway, Sweden, France and the UK