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Friday, October 23, 2020

Film review: Ronnie's @ Everyman Cinema - Oct. 23

Friday evening, the Everyman Cinema, Newcastle. The first night of the nationwide release of Oliver Murray's documentary film Ronnie's. Screen One, albeit with a socially distanced audience, was surprisingly full. Nursing a five quid plus bottle of beer, the 106 minutes which followed were largely familiar to the jazz fan and, for the non-jazz fan, perhaps something of an eye-opener. 

The beginnings, the desire to somehow replicate 52nd Street's club scene back home in London, the Soho gangsters (surprisingly on side with the post war  jazz musicians), the arrival of Zoot Sims with many more Americans to follow, this was the story of a rag to rags jazz club. The to-be-expected talking heads were absent from the screen, instead we heard their voices as stills and the moving image sketched the story of Ronnie Scott. 
Scott's personal demise mirrored the club's decline. The final reel detailed Pete King's sale of the Frith Street shrine to Sally Greene. Take a look at Ronnie's today and King's decision to sell is surely vindicated. A curious - deliberate? - omission was the lack of focus on the house band, past or present. We didn't get to hear from Ronnie's current MD, James Pearson, otherwise Ronnie's is an affectionate tribute to the bricks and mortar bearing the name of its founder and the man himself. 
Russell

1 comment :

Lance said...

I'd seen a preview on my PC but, on the large screen it was something else although, paradoxically, I found the music to be better balanced on my home set-up. However, that did nothing to detract from the film itself - it was so well done and I could feel a vestige of a tear forming at the end.

I agree it would have been interesting to have had a contribution from current "houseman" James Pearson and, even more so, if Clark Tracey had recounted some of his dad's memories from when he, Stan Tracey, was resident pianist at the club. The jazz mags have recounted many stories of the good, the bad and the ugly involving visiting musicians.

On a personal note, I remember my wife and I going to see Buddy Greco and we were shown to a table where the stage was obscured (this was long before the present set-up) and the best we could hope for was hearing Buddy and perhaps catching a glimpse of his shoulder. Marlene wasn't having any of this and collared a waiter. "Do you think you could find us a better table?" she asked. As soon as he heard her northeast accent he said, "Certainly bonny lass" and moved us to what was near enough the best seat in the house - turned out he belonged Morpeth!

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