I greatly enjoyed hosting the world premiere of this fine documentary about Ronnie Scott’s – the jazz club and the man himself – at the Everyman in King’s Cross this week.
Having had him guest on my Totally Wired show, it was good to have director Oliver Murray with me and to share in his big night and I must say the cinema was really buzzing with atmosphere. Everyone there agreed how good it was to get out and about, and that making it out for this film was well worth it, even under the present conditions of pandemic torment.
So, to the film – it’s an exemplary doc, not one of those old jazzy ones with old cats muttering about playing with Miles and Bird (much as I love those types of film.) In fact, I don’t think anyone uses the word ‘cat’ in this film. You wouldn’t call Ronnie Scott himself a cat. He was a jewish boy from the East End who founded a jazz club in Soho with his mate Pete King and the whole world came to play and watch.
What a line up in this film alone – Chet Baker, Buddy Rich, Ella, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy, Cleo Laine, Roland Kirk, Sonny Rollins. Plus you’ve got Michael Parkinson, John Fordham, Gilles Peterson and Quincy Jones as talking voices.
The film gets the archive stuff of Soho just right, and the founding myths are lively and fascinating. But it’s the study of Ronnie himself, with his depressions and doubts, that provides the depth and soul, revealing him to be a wounded, flawed character and giving the whole thing a melancholy blues that’s just right for a jazz film.