Carl Hyde, who has been an official photographer at Ronnie Scott’s since 2014, is today (18 October) launching a new book of photos, Jazz Noir, consisting of “a selection of images that for me personally have stuck in my mind for the past seven years”. Interview by Sebastian Scotney
LondonJazz News: Why have you called the book “Jazz Noir”?
Carl Hyde: To me, the classic Noir films were edgy, dark, black and white movies with moody overtones. In my mind’s eye, that is Jazz: powerful, sometimes dark. The book is a collection of black and white jazz images so I thought the title was fitting.
LJN: You don’t just photograph live music, you also do portrait shots and album covers etc, but if I have understood it right this book consists entirely of shots of live performance?
CH: Yes, I do portraits, studio and location work and have worked with a wide range of musicians. There is only one image in the book that is not shot on stage. It’s the opening image of Archie Shepp shot in a hotel in North London. It’s a photo I love and just felt it needed to go in the book.
LJN: What was the process of choosing what to include from the VAST cache you must have?
CH: There was no real process, it was just a selection of images that for me personally have stuck in my mind for the past seven years. Along the way we lost some great musicians that I did feel needed to be added to the collection for my first book.
LJN: You have included a really poignant shot of the late Christian Brewer. You have also done a dedication to Ben Amure. Is one of the themes here sadness and memory, thinking about inspiring people we have lost?
CH: It is not sadness, it is paying respect to some outstanding musicians that we have lost far too soon over the past few years: John Critchinson, Roy Hargrove, Hugh Masekela, Chuck Loeb, Al Jarreau. We have also lost two during my finalisation of the book: Pee Wee Ellis and Dr Lonnie Smith (above).
LJN: Turning the clock back, what got you started in jazz / live music photography?
CH: Blue Note record covers and finding old jazz photos in Camden market. That’s what started me in particular on this journey and having a passion for music and photography and combining the two.
LJN: And when did you start at Ronnie Scott’s?
CH: Back in October 2014.
LJN: Did you get to know the two Davids (Redfern and Sinclair)? What were they like?
CH: No, not really as I only met David Sinclair a few times at gigs and he was a formidable character who steered away from the pack of photographers. I met him at the Club once and had a lovely long chat about photography, jazz, Ronnie Scott’s and life in general.
LJN: Not all the pictures are from Ronnie’s – where else?
CH: There are only a few pictures in the book that were not shot at Ronnie Scott’s. Mark Guiliana and Kamasi Washington were shot at the Love Supreme Festival, Nat Facey and Shane Forbes were both shot at Jazz in the Round.
LJN: Is this a one-off volume or could you maybe do a series…?
CH: No, it is not a one-off, I have two more books in mind, maybe more.
LJN: What is the book like physically: as in how many pages, what size and why those choices?
CH: It is a hardback edition with a sleeve and 120 pages, 10×8. Why those choices? Simple: costs!
LJN: It is print-on-demand, right? Any idea what you expect shipping times to be?
CH: Yes, it is and it will be around 10 days shipping time.
LJN: Is there going to be a launch?
CH: No, not really. With everything that was happening during Covid, I was not planning on promoting the book via a “standard” launch. I believe the social media platforms will be used. It is not just a book that I put together as a “money-spinner”, I did the book for all those people that love jazz and the artists I photographed. It is also a way of seeing these artists in print in a “little gem of a book” as Erminia, writer and (also) my wife, calls it!