Ronnie Scott’s has become a byword for top quality music. At least to everyone I know. Sadly, as is often the case in all things musical, I was playing catch up from the moment I heard the word “acoustic.” So here’s the lowdown…
Ronnie Scott’s – One of the Oldest Jazz Clubs in the World
Ronnie Scott, the man, forged a successful career as a tenor saxophonist in the UK before going on to found one of the oldest and most respected Jazz clubs in the world. He named it, er, Ronnie Scott’s.
From 1959, with only one change of address, Ronnie Scott’s, the club, grew to invite stars such as Ella Fitzgerald into its famed Soho quarters. Then, on one dry August evening it invited me.
Now, technically speaking, the club invited Fitzgerald to perform, whereas I was invited to pay and keep quiet, but let’s not get bogged down by details!
Built (literally) on the foundation of the original Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Ronnie Scott’s Bar is a low-lit, low-ceiling area decked out in faux tiger and monochrome photos of jazz superstars.
In true London fashion, Ronnie’s Bar opens seven days a week to showcase fresh talent above the streets of Soho. Its location, as much as its history, gives it that slight thrill of excitement.
In London’s Soho, the streets are narrow but the outlook is not. Fluorescent letters spell G-A-Y, a giant stiletto announces Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and despite the threat of traffic, the young, the suits and the trendy spill out onto the tarmac.
Soho feels hot when it’s cold, feels alive while the world sleeps and creates a corner of intimacy in a city that holds 12 million people.
That’s no mean feat.
Of course, it helps when you know people and as it happens, I recognised the first act. Described by London’s Time Out as a “supremely talented, Bristol-based singer,” Phil King also has to carry the rather less flattering epithet of “my brother-in-law.”
Still, the crowd didn’t hold it against him as his soulful voice tumbled through hits from his latest album, They Come and They Go as well as introducing some of his newest work.
Ronnie’s Bar somehow blends standing on hallowed ground with hanging around in a student bar. The prices at the bar, though, set the record straight. Ronnie Scott’s lives in central London – and you must expect to pay the price.
Disclosure: I earned the money for this trip by writing for Most Wanted, a lifestyle magazine that helps you save money on hotels in London and beyond. However, I have absolutely no relationship with Ronnie Scott’s whatsoever.