Preview: The Ronnie Scott's Story UK Tour

The Ronnie Scott's Story combines live music, narration and archive footage to tell the tale of the legendary club and sets out on a 13-venue tour

In 1959, saxophonist Ronnie Scott opened the door to a small basement club in London’s Soho. Scott and Peter King had dreamed of opening a club modelled on the swinging jazz clubs and buzzing scene of New York’s 52nd Street. From its humble beginnings 56 years ago, Ronnie Scott’s would become one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world.

The Ronnie Scott’s Story, featuring the Ronnie Scott's Club Quintet (bassist Sam Burgess and trumpeter Freddie Gavita pictured right, with the on-screen company of Miles Davis and Dave Holland) celebrates the club’s extraordinary history with a mix of live jazz, narration and rare archive video footage as it charts the club's rise from a basement bar, through its trials, tribulations and landmark performances, to become the internationally acclaimed jazz venue it is today. The show has just started a tour, which will visit 13 different venues in England and Wales and run until July.

Stories are told about the desperate hand-to-mouth finances of the early years, the frequent Soho police raids, gangsters, their scrapes with the Krays and the mystery bottle of champagne. Life at Ronnie’s is evocatively reimagined through tales of the club’s past visitors from pop stars, film stars and politicians to comedians and royalty, but above all, Ronnie’s jokes and the musicians.

Having fought to lift a ban on visiting American musicians, Ronnie Scott’s went on to play host to some of the finest musical talent of the 20th century including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, Ella Fitzgerald and many more.

The Ronnie Scott's Story is co-hosted by saxophonist Alex Garnett (pictured left with Sam Burgess) and the Ronnie Scott’s Club musical director, pianist James Pearson. Trumpeter Freddie Gavita, bassist Sam Burgess and drummer Chris Higginbottom complete the band. During the show the Ronnie Scott’s Club Quintet perform music by many of the great acts that have graced the club's stage, exemplifying the classic post-bop sound of this great era of jazz.

One JJ reader said of the show: "All great stuff which everyone enjoyed and I urge readers to try and get to see it before it's too late." Jazz Journal is currently running a series of articles based on a previously unpublished 1979 interview with Ronnie Scott, providing new insights into the man and the club.

A short YouTube video gives a taste of the show.

The tour dates are as follows:

10 Feb - Chatham, Brook Theatre
11 Feb - Cheltenham, Everyman Theatre
4 Mar - Cardiff , St Donat’s Castle Arts Centre
5 Mar - Narbeth, Queens’s Hall
6 Mar - Shoreham-by-Sea, Ropetackle Arts Centre
24 Mar - Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal
1 May - Sherborne Abbey Festival
12 May - Durham, Gala Theatre
22 May - Chelmsford, The Civic Theatre
24 June - Wimborne, Tivoli Theatre
6–10 July - Henley-on-Thames, Henley Festival
17, 24 & 31 July - York, Great Yorkshire Fringe
29 July - Kings Lynn,  Kings Lynn Festival

Bruce Lindsay

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