Mark Hamilton is a saxophonist born in Birmingham and one of the children of Jazz saxophonist Andy Hamilton who was bandleader of the Blue Notes. His father encouraged him and his siblings to play – there was an array musical instrument’s to choose from with Mark’s choice also being the saxophone. Mark had a classical music upbringing having lessons on piano and clarinet but has fond memories of listening to jazz vinyl records and transcribing solos with his brother Graeme. On leaving school Mark went to college where he studied Physical Sciences that led to him working for a precious metals research company for a number of years along with having a passion for also playing football semi-professionally. Currently Mark is working as a Wellbeing and Behaviour Manager in the education sector along with performing and teaching music.

Picture: Mark playing with From Scratch at Sansom Studios for this project.

“My father was from Port Antonio, Jamaica recording his first jazz album ‘Silvershine’ in 1991 at the age of 83. He encouraged us all to play musical instruments – there were many instruments in the house: drums, piano, guitars, bass, clarinet, trumpets and saxophones… with my father just telling us to play them. I wanted to play saxophone but my father insisted I learned clarinet first – he was always on hand to teach us but preferred paying for private lessons. I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world not only with my father and brother Graeme but also performing with ‘The Beat’ a ska/pop band of the 1980’s. I’ve found this part of my musical journey very enjoyable and educational.”

BH: Photographing musicians in rehearsal, sound check or, as in this shot, recording allows you to move more easily around. Shooting during recording does have its own limitations but the silent mode on mirrorless cameras helps. In this case the recording was also being videoed so my movement was constrained.

Picture: Mark making a point during recording with From Scratch.

“Jazz today is very difficult to say…. make a living out of. When we [From Scratch a four piece] have a gig we play some of our own musical arrangements, with the aim in making the gig interesting and enjoyable, not only for the audience but also equally important that we as a band enjoy the experience. We have never wanted to get into the routine – jazz scene of just playing jazz standards… As a band we always thrive to try and do something different. Birmingham Jazz have always been very supportive offering gigs over the years – All members of ‘From Scratch’ have had some musical connection with my father at some point, which in itself I think is unique.”

BH: This shot also made during the recording session for this project shows the interaction between the band. It’s often hard to get a full band shot that works photographically so I was pleased to catch this moment. Music is not Mark’s full-time job at the moment and the nature of his work with vulnerable children makes photographing it not possible.”

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Chris Young
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