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 of musical instrument’s to choose from, with Mark’s choice 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 several 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.
Musical Life and Work
“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.”
“Jazz today is very difficult to say …. and make a living out of it. When we, From Scratch, 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.”
“The Jazz scene/venues have been disappearing during recent times and the Covid pandemic is now another contribution to that decline. I think it's going to be even harder now to revive them (but)… hopefully it will because I think people love jazz. ……It's the love of jazz that will keep jazz alive and not about how much you can earn.”
“The Notebenders (a community band started by his father) are a group of people of all ages/musical abilities coming together rehearsing and performing together.”
“The Covid pandemic has halted The Notebenders journey but hopefully they will be able to resume very soon.”