16 November 2020 02:30
Ronnie's: Ronnie Scott & His World-Famous Jazz Club, BBC4, review: A love letter to live music The story of London's legendary jazz club pushed music to the forefront of its legacy With live music a distant dream due to coronavirus, Oliver Murray's film about world famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club made for a poignant watch. Ronnie's was a treat for jazz fans. But it doubled as a love letter to the concert-going experience itself. Murray avoided the usual music documentary pitfalls. There were no talking heads or grandiose claims about Ronnie Scott's impact on British society.
Instead Michael Parkinson, Kyle Eastwood (son of Clint), Michael Jackson, the producer Quincy Jones and others shared their memories of the beloved Soho institution in voiceover. i's TV newsletter: what you should watch next Email address is invalid Email address is invalid Thank you for subscribing! Sorry, there was a problem with your subscription. Their recollections were accompanied by footage of the packed club in its glory days. And what a trove of memories. Cleo Lane, Van Morrison and Chet Baker were among the greats shown gracing the stage. And with a feature-length running time Murray wasn't always in a hurry. Slowing the pace, he invited the viewer to bask in the wonderful performances. Not that he didn't have a story to tell. Scott was an ace saxophonist who grew up in desperate poverty in the East End. In 1952 he met another sax player, Pete King. After a visit to the Three Deuces Jazz Club in Manhattan, the duo resolved to give London a jazz hotspot to call its own. Scott, who passed away in 1996, cut an enigmatic figure. Even his widow, Mary, confessed that nobody really knew him entirely. He was naturally funny on stage, for instance but despaired that he was better known as a raconteur than a musician. There were other mysteries. A feared gangland figure, Albert "Italian Al" Arthur Dimeo, took a shine to Scott and King when they opened their club in 1959 and did his best to make sure they succeeded. This added a further layer of intrigue to a documentary that wove a compelling tale while putting the music front and centre.