My portrait of Brian Homer was taken at The Big Peg in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter on 9th. August 2015.
By Garry Corbett
Brian is very active on the Birmingham jazz scene as one of the faithful organisers of Birmingham Jazz. In my photograph he is sporting a hand-painted jazz badge by Sarah Taylor Silverwood.
Brian says: “I was born in Cheltenham to Brummie parents who moved back when I was five. I was the first in my immediate family to pass the eleven plus and go to the strange world of grammar school; I’m still recovering. I joined the Electricity Generating Board as a student apprentice electrical engineer and only saw the light when I helped start the what’s on guide to Birmingham, Grapevine. This led to a still ongoing and self taught career in design, writing, editing and photography. The current incarnation of that is Homer Creative. This has included working with Steve Bell on all of his books. For the co-written Tony Blair’s Little Red Book (it was blue) I got to photograph Nelson Mandela close up at the Labour Party Conference in 2000; just brilliant and moving.
I got into jazz shortly after getting my first record player in 1966 (a good year for football too). The late Maurice Hunting at The Diskery helped me choose my first three LPs which were Louis Armstrong, including West End Blues, a boogie piano compilation with Pinetop Smith and a Bob Brookmeyer/Clark Terry album.
I am a fan of all good music but jazz remains my main thing which is why I’m loving being involved in Birmingham Jazz – for the music, the craic and for all of the amazing musicians I’ve had the privilege to hear and to get to know a little bit.
Brian recommends the following 5-a-day:
Abdullah Ibrahim: A Brother with Perfect Timing (DVD) – If you’ve been to an Abdullah Ibrahim gig you’ll know he talks little. This is a real gem from the 1980s to go alongside some footage on his Mukashi CD package.
The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 – This book bridges my passion for jazz and photography. It’s a brilliant and detailed document about Smith’s time living in the Flower District of New York in a loft frequented by just about every famous jazz musician of the period. He filled the place with recording equipment and photographed everything and the results are fascinating.
Jazz by Herman Leonard – There have been many great jazz photographers but Leonard is my favourite and this book contains all of his classic and evocative shots. The smoky Dexter Gordon shot is imprinted on my visual memory.
Julian Argüelles: Let It Be Told (CD) – South African jazz is another passion since seeing Brotherhood of Breath, Dudu Pukwana and Abdullah Ibrahim in the late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and experiencing the anti-Apartheid campaign with demos and gigs including Hugh Masekela. This new recording by Argüelles is a recreation and reinterpretation, and is a current favourite. It brings out the sheer quality of the original tunes by superb arrangements and playing.
Charlie Parker: The Complete Dial Recordings (CD) – Although I love a whole range of jazz from its earliest beginnings to contemporary material, Bird is for me the outstanding genius of jazz. And this is all jazz gold.