Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ronnie Scott's

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had wonderful and relaxing Spring Breaks! I was lucky enough to go on KUs "London Review" Break and I had the opportunity to go to a show at the legendary Jazz Club Ronnie Scott's. This jazz club was founded in 1959 by Ronnie Scott and Pete King and moved to its current location in 1965. Since then, it has hosted such musicians as Ella Fitzgerald, Wes Montgomery, Curtis Mayfield, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day, Bill Evans, Art Pepper, Nina Simone, Van Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix (in his last live performance). Below is a video of Curtis Mayfield performing his "Pusherman" at Ronnie Scott's (split up by portions of an interview).

My impression of the club was mixed. On one hand, I sat thinking in awe about the musicians who had performed on that stage. On the other, I thought a lot about the 30 pound (around $50) entrance fee and the almost exclusively white musicians and audience members. I scrawled the word "gentrified" quickly on my notes, and noted that the median age in the club, tucked away beside Soho Square, was by my estimation probably around 40 or 50. The speciality drink menu highlighted the favorite drinks of jazz musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Jelly Roll Morton.

The performers I saw were called the James Taylor Quartet. They played in a funk style, and had local music students come up with the band and had one woman vocalist perform a few songs with the group. They played funk but within the jazz tradition, doing solos and improvising often. Sometimes the funk leaned towards world jazz and even new age music, and was very conscious of it's electronic possibilities. The band is credited with helping to create and further the genre of "acid jazz." The group performed the theme of Starsky and Hutch and one track on the Austin Powers soundtrack album. I was definitely the most interested in the songs they played with the vocalist, Yvonne Yanney. Below is a clip of the group performing in Switzerland with Yvonne.

I am happy that I had the opportunity to see a show at this historic club. Here is a tribute video for Ronnie Scott's because it is in its 50th year.

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