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William Ellis: Music On A Chink Of Light

Ian Patterson By

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"So you have your knowledge, your experience, your influences, your ability and your confidence, but nothing happens until you make it happen, whether it's hitting a note, hitting a cymbal or hitting a shutter. That's part of the great thrill—the abyss that you look down into, and there's nothing there until you make it appear. That excitement is a big part of the drive and inspiration that keeps things happening, and I think that's probably true of most forms of expression, whether it's visual arts or performing arts—that wonderful intake of breath just before you go over the edge.



"I reach a state of mind, a point at which I know that I can make an image and convey what is happening. When I'm in that state of mind, it's a very serious state of mind. It's a very intense thing. You have to have that edge in whatever field you're in. You've got to deliver, and you're delivering to yourself, in many respects. I won't be deflected. It's an intensely personal thing. I'm creating a body of work—that's what I'm about."

Without a doubt, the drive, focus and determination to succeed that emanate from Ellis have been the major factors behind his already impressive body of work. It is a body of work that suggests that Ellis can already be considered as one of the most significant of contemporary jazz photographers.

"Some people might think that jazz photography has been done. What I do is for now and as time passes all things are viewed in a different context, but if you think about Louis Armstrong—did they break all the trumpets after Louis? No. Then there was Roy [Eldridge], and then Dizzy [Gillespie] came and then Miles, and Terence [Blanchard], and another Roy—somebody else picks it up in their time, and the band plays on."

View more William Ellis photos.

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