Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
The club opened on 30 October 1959 in a basement at 39 Gerrard Street in London's Soho district. It was managed by musicians Ronnie Scott and Pete King. In 1965 it moved to a larger venue nearby at 47 Frith Street. The original venue continued in operation as the "Old Place" until the lease ran out in 1967, and was used for performances by the up-and-coming generation of musicians.
Zoot Sims was the club's first transatlantic visitor in 1962, and was succeeded by many others (often saxophonists whom Scott and King, tenor saxophonists themselves, admired, such as Johnny Griffin, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt) in the years that followed. Many UK jazz musicians were also regularly featured, including Tubby Hayes and Dick Morrissey who would both drop in for jam sessions with the visiting stars. In the mid-1960s, Ernest Ranglin was the house guitarist. The club's house pianist until 1967 was Stan Tracey. For nearly 30 years it was home of a Christmas residency to George Melly and John Chilton's Feetwarmers. In early 1969, The Who premiered Pete Townshend's rock opera Tommy at the club, and it was the site of Jimi Hendrix's last live performance. In 1978, the club established the label Ronnie Scott's Jazz House, which issued both live performances from the club and new recordings.
Scott regularly acted as the club's Master of Ceremonies, and was (in)famous for his repertoire of jokes, asides and one-liners. After Scott's death, King continued to run the club for a further nine years, before selling the club to theatre impresario Sally Greene in June 2005.
In 2009 Ronnie Scott's was named by the Brecon Jazz Festival as one of 12 venues which had made the most important contributions to jazz music in the United Kingdom, and finished third in the voting for the initial award.
Many prestigious artists have played there, including Chet Baker, Dianne Reeves, Stacey Kent, Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum, Bobby Broom, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis, Madeleine Peyroux, Nina Simone, Chick Corea and Cassandra Wilson.
Many of the visiting musicians appearing at Ronnie's were soloists touring without their own rhythm section, or were touring as members of larger bands and they often used the house band to accompany them. On occasions, the house musicians coincided with the members of the various bands that Ronnie Scott led at one time or another. The dates of a particular house musician sometimes overlap with that of others because of the very nature of a musician's working schedule. Many of them were already, or would soon become, leading figures on the British jazz scene.
- Phil Seamen – house drummer from 1964 to 1968.
- Allan Ganley – house drummer from 1964 to 1967, backing visiting Americans such as Stan Getz, Art Farmer and Roland Kirk.
- Tony Oxley – house drummer from 1966 until the early 1970s. Accompanied Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz, Charlie Mariano, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and Bill Evans.
- Martin Drew – house drummer from 1975 to 1995.
- Chris Dagley – house drummer from 2006 to 2010.
- Pedro Segundo – house drummer since 2010.
- Eddie Thompson – house pianist 1959–60
- Stan Tracey – house pianist from March 1960 to 1967/1968.
- John Critchinson – house pianist from 1978 to 1995. Accompanied Chet Baker, George Coleman, James Moody, Joe Henderson and Johnny Griffin.
- James Pearson – house pianist since 2006
- Sam Burgess – house bassist since 2006
- Ernest Ranglin – house guitarist 1964/65.
Other regular performers since 2006 include:
Steve Rushton (drums), Alex Garnett (sax), Alistair White (trombone), Gary Baldwin (hammond), Al Cherry (guitar), Matt Home (drums), Alan Barnes (sax), Natalie Williams (vocals), Ralph Salmins (drums), Arnie Somogyi (bass), Mark Smith (bass), James Nisbet (guitar), Pete Long (sax), Gerard Presencer (Trumpet), Dave O’Higgins, Nina Ferro, Alec Dankworth, Steve Fishwick and other special guests.
In 1978, the club established its own record label, Ronnie Scott's Jazz House. The first release was an album by Scott's quintet. Over the next twenty years, the label gained in prominence, issuing both historic live club performances and new recordings.
Live albums recorded at Ronnie's
- 1963–65: Live in London vols 1 & 2 – Tubby Hayes (taped by Les Tomkins at the Old Place)
- 1964: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Ben Webster
- 1964: The Punch – Ben Webster
- 1964/65: There and Back – The Dick Morrissey Quartet (released 1997). Recorded 27 January 1964/August 20, 1965.
- 1965: Sonny Stitt / Live at Ronnie Scott's – Sonny Stitt and the Dick Morrissey Quartet. Recorded May 1965.
- 1965: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Wes Montgomery
- 1966: Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott's – Blossom Dearie
- 1967: Sweet Blossom Dearie – Blossom Dearie
- 1969: Volcano,...Live at Ronnie's – Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band
- 1969: Rue Chaptal,...Live at Ronnie's – Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band
- 1970: Somewhere in Soho (also released as Live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club) - Soft Machine
- 1971: Dynasty (Live at Ronnie Scott's) – Stan Getz
- 1972: Rich in London aka Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's – Buddy Rich Big Band
- 1974: Ella in London – Ella Fitzgerald
- 1976: Livestock - Brand X
- 1977: Ronnie Scott's Presents Sarah Vaughan Live – Sarah Vaughan
- 1980: Complete Live at Ronnie Scott's 1980 – Bill Evans
- 1980: Live at Ronnie Scott's aka The Man from Planet Jazz – Buddy Rich Big Band
- 1980: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Mike Carr and His Trio Featuring Jim Mullen and Harold Smith – Mike Carr
- 1980: Blues for the Fisherman – The Milcho Leviev Quartet, featuring Art Pepper
- 1980: True Blues – The Milcho Leviev Quartet, featuring Art Pepper
- 1983: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Weekend
- 1984: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Nina Simone. Recorded 17 November 1984.
- 1986: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Chet Baker
- 1986: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Chico Freeman
- 1986: Live at Ronnie Scott's, London – Anita O'Day
- 1988: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Curtis Mayfield
- 1988: I Gotta Right to Sing (live at Ronnie Scott’s) – Marion Montgomery
- 1988: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Roy Ayers
- 1989: The London Concert – George Russell's Living Time Orchestra
- 1990: Live at Ronnie's – John Dankworth Big Band
- 1990: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Taj Mahal
- 1991: Felicidad – Irakere
- 1992: Fourth World: Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Club
- 1994: Speed Trap – Peter King Quintet featuring Gerard Presencer
- 1995: How Long Has This Been Going On – Van Morrison, Georgie Fame and Pee Wee Ellis. Recorded 3 May 1995.
- 1995: A Change of Seasons – Dream Theater
- 1997: Dolly Bird – Liane Carroll
- 1998: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Shakatak
- 1998: Soho Session – Peter Green Splinter Group
- 2000: Ronnie Scott's Jazz House – Arturo Sandoval
- 2002: Son of Dolly Bird – Liane Carroll
- 2003: Live at Ronnie Scott's - Lisa Stansfield
- 2004: Watts at Scott's – Charlie Watts Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scotts
- 2005: MF Horn VI – Live at Ronnie's – Maynard Ferguson
- 2006: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Jamie Cullum
- 2007: Live at Ronnie Scott's – Jeff Beck
- Ronnie Scott's Jazz Farrago compilation of best features from Jazz at Ronnie Scott’s magazine, Hampstead Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9557628-0-2,
- Ronnie Scott, Some of My Best Friends are Blues (with Mike Hennessey). London: Northway Publications 2004. ISBN 0 9537040 6 8.
- Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club interview at Allaboutjazz.com
- "Buckingham Palace hits right note with jazz fans", London Evening Standard (August 3, 2009)
- "Most important jazz venue named", BBC News (August 7, 2009)
- David Taylor's British jazz web site
- Obituary in The Independent
- Charles Fox et al.. "Ronnie Scott", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed January 14 2014), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- Burrell, Ian (3 June 2009). "Ronnie Scott's at 50". The Independent (London). Retrieved 3 June 2009.
- Waller, Martin (10 January 2009). "Ronnie Scott's club now tunes into profits and all that jazz". The Times (London). Retrieved 3 June 2009.
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