Terry Grimley meets a photographer dedicated to documenting the city's burgeoning jazz scene.
Russ Escritt, whose exhibition Andy Hamilton is 90 has just opened at Symphony Hall, has been photographing jazz musicians in Birmingham for 20 years.
"I lived in Bearwood and saw Andy play quite regularly," he explains. "The first time I photographed him was in about 1988 or 1989. David Murray, one of my favourite tenor players, was playing with him that night. I also photographed him playing with Art Farmer and Teddy Edwards, and I just kept on doing it over the years."
Russ's photographs have built into a unique historical record. As well as covering Andy Hamilton's band he began photographing concerts promoted by Birmingham Jazz, and what can't have been immediately apparent is that his images would document the growth of the Birmingham jazz scene to its current vibrant level.
"I think there's a real renaissance going on in Birmingham now," he says. "I've been here since 1980 and I think what's amazing about it is that there's such a lot of stuff going on.
"There's the stuff Andy does and the people who play with him, then there's Birmingham Jazz and Tony Dudley-Evans bringing in bands from around the world, and there's a lot of young up-and-coming musicians. It's partly because of the Conservatoire but not just that - and then there's Soweto Kinch as well.
"The interesting thing about Birmingham is that it's so multicultural, so you're getting this mix of things.
"There was a band Birmingham Jazz helped put together through their project work in schools which played at the last Birmingham Jazz Awards.
"There were black and Asian players and they were bringing their different vibes to it. I think that's really exciting."
There are 20 images in the Symphony Hall exhibition, 14 in black-and-white, six in colour. Russ, a trade union official by profession, had no formal training in photography when he set out. He has gradually picked up technical expertise as he has gone along, taking a City & Guilds course a few years ago mainly to learn to print.
After starting out in black-and-white he eventually moved into colour, and switched to a digital camera two years ago. These days he prefers to take his pictures at sound-checks, when he has more freedom to move around the stage.
When he is not photographing jazz musicians Russ has a current project exploring the strange world beneath Spaghetti Junction and other parts of the West Midlands' elevated motorway network.
He has set up an archive at the Central Library for his jazz photographs, which he estimates has 3,000-4,000 images. Since going digital he thinks the total has reached around 6,000.
"I wanted somewhere safe for them," he says. "Because it's part of the city's history."
* Andy Hamilton is 90 is on view in the Level 4 Foyer at Symphony hall until March 31 (daily 10am-6pm and during concerts; admission free).