Jazz saxophonist and jazz club owner Ronald Schatt (Ronnie Scott) was born on January 28th,1927, in Aldgate, East London. The son of a musician, Scott began playing in small jazz clubs at the age of sixteen. He 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. Eventually, as the owner of the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, UK's most famous jazz club, his name was virtually synonymous with jazz in the country.
Working on the Atlantic oceanliners in the late 1940s, Scott got to hear modern jazz being played by the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis at first hand.
He returned to London convinced that he would play this same kind of jazz in Britain, even if there was not yet a public ready to hear it. He played and recorded in the modern style with like-minded musicians in London's Club Eleven, and after stints with various other bands, formed his own nine-piece group in 1953, with a line-up that included the critic and writer Benny Green on baritone sax.
In 1957 he jointly fronted the Jazz Couriers with fellow-tenorist Tubby Hayes, and this band lasted until Scott (and his partner Pete King, another saxophonist) opened the first Ronnie Scott's night club . He frequently played with his own groups at the club, in between presenting the cream of the world's jazz musicians in an ideal setting for London audiences.
His subsequent premises in Frith Street became one of the world's most celebrated jazz rooms, complete with its own inbuilt studio and (eventually) its own record label. His tenor playing remained among the very best in Britain, and his groups included many famous figures in British jazz, including pianist Stan Tracey and organist Mike Carr. Between stints with his own group and acting as MC at his club, he played in Europe, notably with the Kenny Clarke -Francy Boland Big Band.
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 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 Cerimonies, 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.
Ronnie Scott passed in London on December 23, 1996.
Ronnie Scott does "On Green Dolphin Street"