Updated: Oct 22
I’ve seen over 60 years jazz and blues take over the world, its unbelievable. Ronnie Scott’s means freedom and coming together.'
"Ronnie Scott was among the earliest British musicians to have been influenced by Charlie Parker and became one of the finest saxophone players in Europe. His chief motivation in starting a jazz club was to create a space where he and his contemporaries were free to play modern, forward-thinking music."
I watched this film three times. Why? Because there was so much richness, nostalgia and insight that kept unravelling each time I viewed the film. Ronnie Scott was a complex man, one might even say an enigma but also brilliant at the same time. A man who lived in an obsessive world with music and where his passion and desire for jazz Music and jazz Musicians and the honouring of them fed his soul and his vision for Ronnie Scott the world famous jazz Club.
The harnessing of his talent and vision along with his fierce business partner and long-time friend Pete King created something that has gone down in the history books of time. Both men were musicians. Pete was a British jazz tenor saxophonist and was the manager of London's Ronnie Scott's jazz club for almost fifty years. Ronnie Scott OBE was an English jazz tenor saxophonist and jazz club owner who co-founded Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, one of the UK's most popular jazz clubs, in 1959.
The film was a gentle and surreal reminder of those great days when entertainment was at its peak, and jazz was gaining a name for itself. This greatly influenced not only audiences, but everyone who were part of that great playground on the jazz Scene. It was new, exciting and a place to be free to create a different feel and look about jazz. Where great music, and legendary artists where bought together on an International stage putting Ronnie Scott in a league of its own.
Ronnie Scott, the Club became the rhythm of life for many, however, this could not have happened unless Ronnie himself had been that eternal optimistic, with his drive and passion for music with Pete holding the business reigns. Each artist who frequented Ronnie's bought their own unique talent and gift enthralling audiences, giving them experiences that would last them for a life time.
From humble beginnings, music was the driving force for Ronnie. Born in 1927 in the East End, his parents divorced when he was young. Ronnie didn't really know his father other than that he played the saxophone, but he knew that he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and before he was 20 years old, he was playing in Ted Heath’s dance band.
Ronnie frequented various clubs along the way, sating his passion to play the saxophone, however he wanted more. By the 1950's he wanted to explore the less commercial side of Jazz. He was inspired by the sound of Bebop and set up his first Jazz Club in Gerrard Street , in London's Soho district on 30th October 1959 in the basement. The club was put together rather speedily and cheaply but the dream had been birthed. Many people were surprised and not happy that a Jazz musician wanted to run his own club because you either owned a club or you were a musician not both.
Sarah Vaugh Quincy Jones Buddy Rich Ella Fitzgerald
In 1965 they moved to a larger venue nearby at 47 Frith Street where Ronnie Scott is still today. So many great legends frequented Ronnie Scott - Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Blind musician Roland Kirk , Quincy Jones, Van Morrison and Chet Baker, Sarah Vaugh, Jimmi Hendrik, Buddy Rich etc. The Creme de la Creme of jazz.
Ronnie and Pete were generous individuals, sometimes not too business savvy, however they wanted to make their audience feel welcome and at home so much so people remember the free drinks and meals that were doled out to them which didn't help the business financially and on many occasions had to have a financial injection to keep themselves about water and Ronnie was known to gamble alot, which meant Pete would have be to be ruthless with his financial reigns .
Ronnie was also a great comedian and loved to tell jokes and entertain his audiences. However it transpires in his latter years he suffered from depression something he made sure he hid from the public. In those days anyone suffering from a mental health condition were not taken seriously. Hence, the reason to throw himself into playing the saxophone and running the club even more. It was a way for him to escape, to delve into the music so deeply that he became the rhythm and notes, drifting into a place he understood. It was said that he was like a child when listening to the artists, they did something deep and rich to his soul where he was able to immerse every part of him.
With Partner Barbara Jay - British Jazz Singer
Oliver is a filmmaker based in London, where he specialises in films and documentaries about the arts. Oliver Murray, Writer and Director is able to take the audience on a journey capturing and snatching pivotal moments of Ronnie's life. The ups and downs interspersed with experiences that one would not otherwise associate with a man like Ronnie. We get to meet those people who journeyed with him and whose place in his life was significant i.e his partners, his daughter, the musicians who worked with him, the journalists who interviewed him. Murray is able to capture an essence of this enigma who displayed his vulnerability on occasion to those close to him, who struggled with Depression and yet whose courage to still face the world on stage is to be commended. He gave a platform to so many artists, whilst capturing the hearts of a generation of music lovers. While recovering from surgery for tooth implants, he died at the age of 69 from an accidental overdose of barbiturates prescribed by his dentist. The initial impact of going for surgery over a period of two years meant he couldn't play the saxophone as he wanted and this drove him even further into depression. He was no longer able to express his soul, through music, the only thing it seems that actually kept him alive.
The film is also nostalgic being reflective of current times and how the music and entertainment industry have been adversely affected by the current pandemic. However, this is a film that I hope will keep the flames of hope alive for music and live performance. A film that will take you back in time so you recognise how far we have come and despite difficult times and challenges, something wonderful can be birthed.
Ronnie's will be Released on 23rd October 2020 at Everyman Cinemas
Written by Esther Austin Editor in Chief
Turingpoint: Your Lifestyle, Your Well-Being Magazine https://www.issuu.com/estheraustinglobal www.turningpointmag.com @turningpointmagazine