Ronnie Scott documentary BBC4 tonight

Fir those interested there is a documentary tonight on BBC4 about Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. Followed by a showing of Ella Fitzgerald’s 1974 performance there



I’m a Celebrity starts tonight at the same time.
Ronnie can wait for another night.

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No contest!

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Does that mean you’re the viewer?! I assumed they must have one somewhere… Perhaps you can answer a question that has puzzled me for a long time: what makes the people on TV “celebrities”? Who celebrates them?

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I watched the Ronnie Scott program.
It showed snippets, sometimes more, of the greats of jazz over the ages and memories of my visits of both the club & the area at the time. It captured the atmosphere.
It was the story of Ronnie & the club but it turned somewhat melancholy towards the end as it got into his health struggles, but that aside, it was a good watch.

I haven’t watched yet but have recorded it so will catch up. Did you watch Ella afterwards?

The Ella performance was fantastic. How could it not be with a backing band of Joe Pass and the Tommy Flanagan Trio. That must have been her first ‘season’ in the 70s at the club. After that she was an annual attraction and always sold out well in advance at two shows a night.

The Ronnie documentary was extremely well done I thought. It had a difficult balancing act of showing details of the club over the years, the various stars who played there, a potted history of early bebop and jazz in Soho plus what I thought were very good bios of Ronnie and Pete King, not flinching from Ronnie’s personal problems. The ‘talking heads’ were mostly very Illuminative and didn’t fill the screen. Thankfully, the minimum of present day inane ‘celeb’ viewpoints and grandstanding. :clap: :clap:

Some tantalising 1969 snippets of stars featured at the club - in very nice colour, including Miles Davis. Sadly, I believe that the individual shows were wiped by the BBC but a single compilation show of the highlights survived - which they have used.


… no didn’t watch Ela, had to go over to the golf. I’ll probably watch later this week on iPlayer

I thought it was a good balance of the club’s history, the friendship and partnership between Ronnie & Pete King and, although difficult, Ronnie’s personal battles over the years. It’s probably my favourite venue for live music and I usually visit the club about half a dozen times a year. My godfather took me to the club when I was about 8 years old when he was tuning the house Steinway for the club. I guess the spirit of the club sank in at that time!

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Cool ! My first visit was around 1979 as a student and around that time and into the early 80s it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, which was very palpable. I will be forever grateful to Ronnie though because he had a policy of seating youngsters like myself, students and possibly young musos, at the very front seats where possible and as a result I got to see people like George Coleman and Bill Evans at very close range.

The price of booze though was extortionate - how to make a pint last a night. After 12am in those early days you also had to order some form of food to get a late drink.

Fantastic also for big bands - Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and Louis Bellson were 3 that I saw. Gil Evans too !

You saw Buddy Rich at Ronnie’s? I wish I could go back in time to see that!

I saw him twice over several years ! Late 70s, early 80s. Absolutely uproarious and Buddy and Ronnie did their humorous repartee between the shows, ripping the proverbial out of each other. Buddy’s gigs were always an advance sellout of course, several shows a night and at top admission $.

I also saw Marty Feldman getting carried out ‘legless’ on one occasion and once shared a table there with Art Garfunkel (didn’t say a word!). That was during Bill Evans’ final week there.

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A great watch lovingly put together with some top music clips, home videos and evocative street scenes

The big shock was that Art Pepper had been a military policeman!

Marvelous memories Dynaudio.

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So many memories of that club ! Remember seeing Oscar Peterson a couple of tables away as a ‘punter’ flanked by two gorgeous blondes - he took a bow. Also sharing a table and chatting with a very young Herlin Riley on his first visit to London playing in a jazz-based West End show - it was his night off. Pretty sure I saw Ken Clarke and his fumigating cigars too !

I did get the chance to visit the ‘new’ club before lockdown for the first time to see the Mingus Big Band. I was very pleasantly surprised - the atmosphere was good and they have paid great tribute to the legacy whilst applying good survival business sense. I will be back !

Only started going in the noughties when I worked in Wardour St. Pretty slick operation then but the music was always the main thing. Last went a couple years back to see the Bad Plus on Ethan Iverson’s last tour - great night - even the support included the likes of Art Theme.

I have posted before but worth checking out Ronnie’s YouTube pages - lots of videos including the recent lockdown sessions with young Brits Ashley Henry and Camilla George and older Brit Brit Byron Wallen and bands - no audience tho.


A bit off on a tangent, I’ve wondered whether Ronnie Scott’s ever came under the influence of Londons gangland, given its location and the notoriety of gangland activity particularly in the sixties.
If not, he must have been approached and how was he able to resist or avoid gang attention

Watch the program, it tackles that issue head on.

Thanks, I have recorded it will be interesting

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Super programme with outstanding footage. Just going to investigate Mary Lou Williams.