Remember Ronnie Scott’s in Broad Street, the Birmingham offshoot of the famous London jazz club? Yep, the Brum namesake didn’t last quite as long as the Soho club – 10 years (1991-2001) as opposed to over half a century (opened in 1959 and still going strong) – but there were some damn fine gigs in that decade nevertheless.
I remember fondly the Cuban big band Irakere dancing through the tables, vibes funster Roy Ayers reminding us that Everybody Loves The Sunshine within its dark, red light illuminated, photograph-filled walls, and legendary drummer Elvin Jones, the turbulent heart of his Jazz Machine.
The Birmingham club always did feel a bit like a dream the city couldn’t really justify, and indeed it was, financially troubled most of the time and with a messy denouement. It became the lap-dancing Rocket Club.
Still, let’s look on the brighter history and legacy of the real Ronnie Scott’s, which is being celebrated in a musical and visual touring show called The Ronnie Scott’s Story and which comes to Birmingham Town Hall this Saturday, 29 January. Leading the band is current Ronnie Scott’s musical director James Pearson on piano, with Alex Garnett on saxophone, Freddie Gavita on trumpet, Sam Burgess on bass and Chris Higginbottom on drums.
Expect to hear about the colourful history of the London club – including the police raids, a few scrapes with the Kray brothers and other gangland japes – and perhaps even a bit about the Birmingham travails – or as the press release describes them “the sax to sex deals”. And, of course, the band will be recreating the sound not only of the many jazz greats who played there but also of the club’s eponymous founder, the one and only Ronnie Scott himself.
- The Ronnie Scott’s Story is at 8pm, tickets are from £18 and you can find out more as well as book here.
- Read Tony Dudley-Evans’ memories of the Birmingham Ronnie Scott’s here.