The Ronnie Scott Trio / Quartet / Quintet - JHAS 610
I'm Sick And Tired Of Waking Up Tired And Sick.
What's New ?
Blues in B and B flat
Bye Bye Blackbird
One Night at Ronnie's
1. The Ronnie Scott Quintet - Ronnie Scott (tenor), Stan Tracey (piano), Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Malcolm Cecil (bass), Chris Karan (drums) - recorded on 8th December 1963.
2 & 3. The Ronnie Scott Quartet - Ronnie Scott (tenor), Stan Tracey (piano), Malcolm Cecil (bass), Jackie Dougan (drums) - recorded on 14th & 29th February 1964.
4. The Ronnie Scott Trio - Ronnie Scott (tenor), Rick Laird (bass), Jackie Dougan (drums) - recorded on 31st December 1964.
5. The Ronnie Scott Trio - Ronnie Scott (tenor), Rick Laird (bass), Ronnie Stephenson (drums) - recorded on 8th February 1965.
6. The Ronnie Scott Quartet - Ronnie Scott (tenor), Stan Tracey (piano), Rick Laird (bass), Jackie Dougan (drums) - recorded on 2nd April 1965.
Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Club, 39 Gerrard Street, London.
Prepared for CD release by Les Tomkins and Dave Bennett
Remastered by Dave Bennett
Digital editing by Paul Adams
Two buildings in my home area will always set me thinking about the late, great Ronnie Scott. One is the pub/restaurant where my wife and I were having breakfast on Christmas Eve 1996, before doing our final shopping, when the shock news of Ronnie's death came on the radio. The other is the Rose Hill Community Centre, in which I ran a club in 1950, where Ronnie first met and played with Tubby Hayes, that other departed British great. Just one magic memory.
As the rabbi said to the gathering, mainly musicians, at Ronnie's January 7th funeral, we all have our memories of the man. Mine go back to the 'forties when, as a teenage jazz fan, I approached him at a West Norwood gig to tell him how much I'd enjoyed his playing, both then and with the Ted Heath band at the London Palladium. He bought me a drink and chatted to me for most of his break. While still a teenager, I was to engage him and his Club Copacabana Sextet to play at my club, and introduce him to Tubby.
1959 was the year Ronnie started the Club, and I started tape-recording interviews with important jazz performers. Four years later, backstage at the Odeon, Hammersmith (as it was then), between doing some interviews, I remarked to Ronnie: "All this wonderful jazz is going on every night at the club. It just seems a shame that some of it is not being recorded". He said "You're right. Well, look - you've got the machine there. Bring it down any time you like, and see what you can get". I accepted his invitation eagerly, and today's Jazz House 'Archive Series' was the result. The beauty of it, particularly as far as Ronnie's own playing was concerned, was that he never knew for sure when I was recording, or whether I was recording him.
Some words of his during a 1979 Crescendo interview help to convey his attitude to playing. To my comment that he didn't seem to record very often, he replied: "You know - I hate making records, really. I envy those guys who can't wait to get in the studio and make a record, and get it put out. It's such a personal thing, playing, that to have it on a record I find disconcerting.
Once it's there, I know that three months later I'll hear it and say: 'Christ, I can do better than that now!' It's not really what I want to put down on a record. So, I don't like doing it. To me, I just enjoy playing in clubs - I'm not mad about concerts. As long as I can play with guys I know, that I like working with, in a club - that's enough for me. If I'm going to make a record, I prefer it to be a live thing, rather than in the studio. I just can't play that way - when the red light goes on, you've got to turn it on. I wish I could be like the guys who have such a consistent standard that they can go in and turn out good stuff to order. If it happens with me on the stand, it's more luck than judgement. As a general rule, I prefer to hear live recordings; you don't get the sound that you get in the studio, but you usually get better music."
On his constant denigration of his own efforts, in spite of the praise accorded it by fellow-musicians, he said: "Nobody is ever self-satisfied about their playing - otherwise they would just stop. But, I mean, some guys do hit on, or evolve, a kind of set style. To me, I've never had that; I can't hear it in my playing - it's always in a state of flux. Which has its good and its bad points - but there's nothing I can do about it. Of course, as every musician will tell you, there are ups and downs. The downs are usually 90 percent of the time, and the ups, such as they are, maybe ten per cent - if you're lucky. That's the story".
I find that I recorded Ronnie's tenor jazz on 23 different occasions in the club, either with his own groups or sitting in with visiting Americans, when he always rose to the occasion. Listening through several hours, with deep nostalgia, to select the tracks for what is, so sadly, a Memorial Tribute album, I found my assessment of the percentage of musical "ups" to be infinitely greater than Ronnie's.
My object here was to compile as characteristic a cross-section as possible of a productive three-year period in Ronnie's life. His main tendency was to alternate between brisk-paced items, often in blues format, and slow to medium ballads. Chronologically here, the two slower ones are sandwiched between four variously uppish tunes, three of which are blues, including his typically-titled track 2. The line-ups range from a quintet containing the Jamaican guitar wizard Ernest Ranglin as well as the stirring piano of Stan Tracey to a couple with just bass and drums.
The one integral element of Ronnie Scott that needed to be represented here is his humour - those well- known and much-loved one-liners with which he spiced his performances and his overall MC-ing in the club, and which created such a lively ambiance whenever he was present. In my quest for this, I came upon one memorable night in October'64 when the legendary mother of Liza M. was there to hear Mark Murphy. She was, shall we say, in jovial mood, and some two-way repartee with Ronnie ensued, following her calls for "More!" at the end of a set. You can hear what Ronnie said, but with Judy being away from the mike I should tell you that she first asks: "What's your rate here - what do you pay?", then "This is a very nice club", and "That's terrible! That's terrible!"
Later that same night - or rather, morning - I picked up Ronnie's parting shots at the close of play. I realise now the source of at least one catchphrase/joke that I have adopted. A session-end Scott saying that I didn't track down this time was: "You don't have to go home - you just have to get out of here". And who will forget Thursday/Friday nights': "If we don't see you again this week, have a nice weekend. If we never see you again, have a nice life".
In case it is not clear, let me say that Ronnie was one of my all-time favourite people - and it is devastating to have to write about him in the past tense. Many others have had, and will continue to have, their say, but these were my personal thoughts about and quotes from this very special man, and these are my personal tapings of his brilliance for you to enjoy. So, cheerio, Ron, and thanks for everything.