Jan 24 2012: Fifteen Monochrome Snapshots from the Nottingham Jazz and Beat Scene (c.1960s)
All I know for sure about this series of images is that the photographs were framed when found (at the Sneinton Cattle market a week or so ago: one or two show fading where the mounts overlapped the images themselves) and all seem to have been part of a wider gathering of pictures relating to Nottingham’s jazz scene, from the 1960s to the near-present (about half a dozen more recent photographs showed the jazz band John Lucas plays trumpet with in performance at a Beeston pub around 2004 – I’ll be passing those on to him next time I see him). The fifteen seen here, though, go back to an earlier era, and the characters and locations – ranging from Nottingham pubs and bars to a single shot taken outside a Paris cafe – are pretty vivid, evoking a world that would have been familiar to a few of Alan Sillitoe’s characters back in their primes. A few are traceable to a particular gig, too, with the pianist, horn section and lead musician of the Sandy Brown band in performance, with Brown’s own picture signed on the back by the man himself. All in all, an intriguing bit of post-war Nottingham history can be gleaned from these shots, as they travel from domestic into social space, between pub tables and the open air and (as noted already) as far afield as Paris, all the while shifting between smart suits, early sixties frocks and vaguely beatnik personal styles: the details a younger Ray Gosling was busy writing and making films about at this time, too. The atmosphere in these photographs is akin to that found in such Free Cinema landmarks as Karel Reisz’s We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959) or Momma Don’t Allow (1956) and just as representative of a certain historical moment’s richly transformative potential.