Ronnie Scott

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Ronnie Scott (28 January 1927 – 23 December 1996) was an English jazz tenor saxophonist and jazz club owner. Ronnie Scott (originally Ronald Schatt) was born in Aldgate, east London, into a Jewish family. His father Joseph Schatt was of Russian extraction and his mother Sylvia's family attended the Portuguese synagogue in Alie Street. Scott began playing in small jazz clubs at the age of sixteen. (His claim to fame being, he was taught to play by "Vera Lynn's father-in-law!") Scott toured with Johnny Claes, the trumpeter, from 1944 to 1945 and with Ted Heath in 1946, as well as working with Ambrose, Cab Kaye, and Tito Burns. Scott was involved in the short-lived musicians' co-operative Club Eleven band and club (1948–50), with Johnny Dankworth and others, and was a member of the generation of British musicians who worked on the Cunard liner Queen Mary (intermittently from 1946 to around 1950) to visit New York and hear the new music directly. Scott was among the earliest British musicians to be influenced in his playing style by Charlie Parker and other bebop musicians. In 1952 Scott joined Jack Parnell's orchestra, then led his own nine-piece group and quintet featuring among others, Pete King, with whom he would later open his jazz club, Victor Feldman, Hank Shaw and Phil Seamen from 1953 to 1956. Scott co-led The Jazz Couriers with Tubby Hayes from 1957 to 1959, and was leader of a quartet including Stan Tracey (1960–67). During this period Scott also did occasional session work; his best-known work here is the solo on The Beatles' "Lady Madonna". Scott also played on film scores, including Fear Is the Key, composed by Roy Budd. Scott continued to be in demand for guest appearances in later years, such as providing the tenor sax solo on Phil Collins's 1981 hit single "I Missed Again". From 1967–69, Scott was a member of The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, which toured Europe extensively and which also featured fellow tenor players Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. At the same time Scott ran his own octet including John Surman and Kenny Wheeler (1968–1969), and a trio with Mike Carr on keyboards and Bobby Gien on drums (1971–1975). Scott went on to lead various groups, most of which included John Critchinson on keyboards and Martin Drew on drums. Scott's playing was much admired on both sides of the Atlantic. Charles Mingus said of him in 1961: "Of the white boys, Ronnie Scott gets closer to the negro blues feeling, the way Zoot Sims does." Despite his central position in the British jazz scene, Scott recorded infrequently during the last few decades of his career. Scott suffered periods of depression and, while recovering slowly from surgery for tooth implants, died at the age of 69 from an accidental overdose of barbiturates prescribed by his dentist. Scott was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. The author Joel Lane was Scott's nephew. Ronnie Scott's widow, Mary Scott, has a business representing musicians and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She and her daughter, Rebecca Scott, have written a memoir, A Fine Kind of Madness: Ronnie Scott Remembered, with a foreword by Spike Milligan. The book was published in 1999 in London by Headline Book Publishing. Scott is perhaps best remembered for co-founding, with former tenor sax player Pete King, the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, which opened on 30 October 1959 in a basement at 39 Gerrard Street in London's Soho district, with the debut of a young alto sax player named Peter King (no relation), before later moving to a larger venue nearby at 47 Frith Street in 1965. The original venue continued in operation as the "Old Place" until the lease ran out in 1967, and was used for performances by the up-and-coming generation of domestic musicians. Scott regularly acted as the club's genial Master of Ceremonies, and was (in)famous for his repertoire of jokes, asides and one-liners. A typical introduction might go: "Our next guest is one of the finest musicians in the country. In the city, he's crap". After Scott's death, King continued to run the club for a further nine years, before selling the club to theatre impresario Sally Greene in June 2005. In September 2013, while the club was being redecorated, a 12-metre-square hoarding was placed on the Frith Street façade as a tribute to its eponymous founder, bearing a giant photograph of Ronnie Scott by Val Wilmer, alongside one of his legendary one-liners: "I love this place, it's just like home, filthy and full of strangers." As well as participating in name orchestras, Scott led or co-led numerous bands featuring some of Britain's most prominent jazz musicians of the day. Ronnie Scott Trio:1970 Mike Carr (keyboards / Vibraphone) Tony Crombie(Drums /Piano)