A fantastic evening of jazz and storytelling At the New Wolsey Theatre by the The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, led by the club’s musical director, James Pearson on the piano. We also had Sam Burgess (bass), Chris Higginbottom (drums), the fantastic Alex Garnett (sax) and the incredible Polly Gibbons (vocals).
The musicians were on the stage and there was a big screen showing original footage, photographs, newspaper articles and album covers to add visuals to the story of Ronnie Scott and Peter King and how they started up the jazz venue in London’s Soho. 60 years of jazz history and how it all happened was interesting and engaging. The screen footage it bought it all to life and it would have been an amazing time.
We were told the overall story of how the club started, the difficulties it faced along the way, how it moved venues, went out of business due to Inland Revenue, how help from friends they managed to buy it back, the police raids etc,. The number of musical stars and celebrities who attended. The list is pretty huge and consisted of all the global greats. It became the greatest jazz club in the world and everyone wanted to be there or perform there.
We were also treated to anecdotes about some of the famous people, both funny and endearing. Stories about Nina Simone, The Krays, Cleo Lane, Miles Davies, Sarah Vaughan ….the list is endless.
The club was also a first for many things, such as the Latin American Jazz Festival, all-US Big Band in the UK – and on a small stage too.
James, Alex and Polly took it in turns to speak and Alex was the ‘funny man’ as his one liners got laughs from the audience. The stories and anecdotes were interspersed through the most amazing jazz tracks and incredible performances from these uber-talented musicians. They were warm, relaxed, enigmatic and absolutely ooooozed jazz.
Not only was it informative, it was an auditory and visual treat which produced a stunning evening.