London Jazz Special
Review: Ronnie Scott's,
47 Frith Street, London W1
020 7439 0747
Tube: Leicester Square
THE JAZZ purist would be pressed to find a more appealing atmosphere than that of Ronnie Scott's. Improvisational horn blasts and eclectic polyrhythmic drums reverberate between the dimly lit, pictorial walls of music history, Scott's being a venue for many of the greats spanning the latter half of the twentieth century.
The stage is well placed allowing a superb view from most of the simple, yet elegant round red-clothed tables where waiters busily serve one of the four pre-determined three-course meals. The relatively standard menu, along with admission and a half bottle of red or white wine will cost a non-member of the club UKP 25. Students get a good break and can gain access for a mere UKP 10. Reservations are not required but don't expect a seat without them. A queue usually materializes between 8:30 and 9:30 and, especially on the weekends, is for standing room only.
With a usual line-up of two groups doing four interchangeable sets, the room kicks and screams all evening with a variety of classical jazz, soulful blues, and spicy latino from about 9:30 all the way until 2:15 a.m. The club seems a more-posh, yet charming European counterpart to the dark and seedy underground clubs that speckled the New York jazz scene throughout the 50s and early 60s. Expect the patrons to look something like a line of upper-middle class suburbanites out for a fun night in the city.
More for the young, the upstairs Starsky and Hutch Club provides a cheaper (UKP8) and subsequently less-refined DJ session on Wednesday and Thursday nights playing 70s and 80s jazz, funk, and soul. The atmosphere quickly becomes laced with your favourite radio hit singles from yesteryear, the kind of music people just down the stairs would find deplorable. So keep in mind, the up is much different from the down, but all in all, Ronnie Scott's sets a unique mood with nice lighting, good food, and something becoming increasingly harder to find these days: quality music.
- Daniel Schreiber