50 years of jazz in pictures

Brian O'Connor illuminates five decades of jazz in Britain with a photo exhibition in Crawley in September

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Freddie Hubbard at Ronnie Scott's in 1973, a typically evocative shot by Brian O'Connor

Photographer Brian O’Connor, whose photos have graced Jazz Journal for the last decade or more, has an exhibition of his work at The Hawth in Crawley in September. Over 70 of his framed 20×16 images, in both colour and black and white, will chart the changing face of jazz over the past 50 years.

Brian was always interested in photography. Then, after hearing Frank Sinatra’s That Old Black Magic on the radio, he also began to explore the world of the Great American Songbook. The world of jazz finally opened its doors when he heard Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s version of Desafinado.

In the late 60s, Brian joined the Sinatra Music Society where he met the late Stan Britt, freelance jazz journalist. Thus began the glorious synthesis of what had become two hobbies – photography and an appreciation of jazz. For the next 25 years Brian accompanied Stan to gigs and interviews, photographing many of the jazz greats, including Ella Fitzgerald and Freddie Hubbard (pictured above).

When Stan finally retired, Brian continued. Now, after 50 years, this exhibition shows a remarkable selection of images taken during half a century. From the giants of the past to today’s rising stars such as Laura Jurd, in both colour and black and white, his exhibition promises a visual chronicle of jazz in the UK since 1969.

Copies of Brian’s book, Images Of Jazz, published in 2017 will, subject to availability, be on sale at a special price during the exhibition.

Brian lives in Horley, Surrey, with his long-suffering wife Judi and a cat definitely not able to appreciate Cecil Taylor. His work continues, though he says the next 50 years may be a bit of a struggle.

There’s more information on Brian’s work at the Images Of Jazz website.http://www.hawth.co.uk

Brian O’Connor’s Images of Jazz, a photographic exhibition celebrating 50 years of jazz and blues photography. The Hawth, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ, 3-19 September 2019. Admission free during opening hours – hawth.co.uk.