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Composer Michael Gibbs 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, will be on a special 80th birthday tour this autumn, including six dates in the UK.

Gibbs and his orchestra can be 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 is to include 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 is also to direct the NDR Big Band in Hamburg, Germany, on September 22, and is to appear with vibes master Gary Burton and guitarist Bill Frisell at Berklee in Boston, USA, on October 19.

Powerhouse swing at Suffolk festival

Powerhouse drummer Stephen Ruston with the Back To Basie big band at the Ipswich Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

The 2017 Ipswich Jazz Festival came to a storming conclusion with the Back To Basie big band recreating the Count's greatest hits. The Suffolk festival - the second of its kind - also featured outstanding performances by singer Vimala Rowe, with guitarist John Etheridge, saxophonist Art Themen and the Chris Ingham Trio; and there were concerts by the Township-style band of Claude Deppa and Claire Hirst, and by regional bands including Cinquenta and the Frank Weatherley Trio. 

John Watson of Jazzcamera led a sold-out music photography workshop at the festival.

Corea, Gadd and Potter shine at Cheltenham


Master pianist Chick Corea at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

A strong collection of American jazz giants - among them pianist Chick Corea, saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Eddie Gomez, drummers Steve Gadd and Brian Blade, and singer Dee Dee Bridgewater - rubbed shoulders with some of Europe's finest young players at the 2017 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Among the Europeans, Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset, the Danish/Swedish/British Trio Phronesis with the Engines Orchestra, and UK trumpeter Yazz Ahmed gave outstanding performances.


Dazzling players on the Gateshead beat

Pianist Neil Cowley with his Spacebound Apes project at Gateshead. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk 

A host of superb artists once again made the Gateshead International Jazz Festival at the Sage concert centre a hugely successful event, with styles ranging from intense African-Cuban rhythms, to engaging post-bop, orchestral and deeply funky beats. 

Among the outstanding performers were African bassist Richard Bona with his band, pianist Neil Cowley with his Spacebound Apes project, tuba virtuoso Daniel Herskedal with the Royal Northern Sinfonia orchestra, saxophonist Shabaka with his African band, The Ronnie Scott All Stars with singer Natalie Williams, vocalist Clare Teal with her Hollywood Ordhestra and guests, and special features for acclaimed female musicians, among them pianist Nikki Iles (in eloquent duets with saxophonist Stan Sulzmann), trumpeter Laura Jurd's Dinosaur with strings, and saxophonist Trish Clowes with her group. There were deep beats from bands including GoGo Penguin and Strobes, wild, exciting improvising from sax-drums duo Binker and Moses, and excellent youth big bands from the UK, Holland and Germany.

See John Watson's photographs from the festival. Click on the link on the left: "Gateshead Jazz Festival Gallery"

African bassist Richard Bona with his band at the Sage. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Blazing Carter and sublime Rava 

James Carter at the 2016 Pancevo Jazz Festival. Photograph copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Fiery American saxophonist James Carter, guitar giant John Scofield, and the sublime Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava delighted crowds at the 2016 Pancevo Jazz Festival in Serbia. Carter appeared with his organ trio - Gerard Gibbs on the Hammond and Alex White on drums - while Rava performed beautifully with his excellent New Quartet (Francesco Diodati on guitar, Gabriele Evangelista on bass and Enrico Morello on drums). Scofield brought a superb new all-star group, Country For Old Men, with organist Larry Goldings, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Veteran alto saxophonist Lee Konitz's performance with the RTS Big Band was fragile, and free-form pianist Myra Melford drew mixed reactions for her performance with the group Snowy Egret. Balkan groups also featured: the Lazar Tosic Quintet with guest trumpeter Marko Dordevic, the piano trio Sound Sculptures, and cimbalon duo Miklos Lukacs and Kalman Balogh.

See John Watson's photographs from the Pancevo Jazz Festival - click on the link on the left 'Pancevo Jazz Festival Gallery'

Avishai's stunning bass power

Bassist Avishai Cohen in action at the Belgrade Sava Centar.  Photography copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk

Israeli bass master Avishai Cohen and his dynamic trio stunned a packed crowd in the vast Sava Centar concert hall on the second night of the Belgrade Jazz Festival, winning two standing ovations for a stupendous performance.

The festival had opened in dynamic style with Latin fire from American trumpeter Bryan Lynch in action with the quartet of Serbian pianist Vlada Maricic, and Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and his Trio. Cooler tones followed from Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma and Icelandic pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs. Other artists in the festival included UK-born bassist Dave Holland, American stars Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, Eric Harland and Chris Potter, and Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen.

See John Watsons's photos from the festival. Cick on the link on the left 'BELGRADE JAZZ GALLERY' 

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

Birmingham: Symphony Hall, Town Hall, CBSO Centre, Adrian Boult Hall, mac arts centre

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 and other venues, 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


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

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