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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Tuesday, 10 November 2015 19:58

Ronnie Scott’s 56th birthday jam session - The Jam Masters session

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Erminia witnesses a late-night jam session that would make Ronnie proud!

On the 56th anniversary of the opening of the iconic Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, the jam session that is awaiting the audience looks to be a fabulous one.

When it first opened its doors, the club was at Gerrard Street. Now it is in Frith Street, having become a venue for the most amazing jazz, blues and folk performances in the entire universe, and it feels exciting to be part of this crowd on this particular night.

Ronnies is plunged into almost darkness with only enough light for the stage, illuminating what will be the most incredibly talented quintet; it is, after all, the house quintet so expectations are high!

So at 23.30 the band starts to play....

The line up is going to be a treat for every ear in the room:

Freddie Gavita – trumpet

Alex Garnett – tenor sax

James Pearson – piano

Sam Burgess – bass

Chris Higginbottom - drums

There is real unity in this quintet: the piano is slick, the bass is majestic, so much so that one wants to get up and dance.  Heads are nodding in the audience.

Scotch And Water by the mighty Cannonball Adderley, master of hard bop, opens the jam session. Alex Garnett’s funny jokes and interludes are just right at this late hour. There are good vibes and good sounds. Then, out of nowhere, the superb entrance of Mr Andy Davies, trumpeter extraordinaire, on stage for a little battle with Mr Gavita.  It is phenomenal to see how different their playing is: one is so still (Gavita) and the other grooves around on stage (Davies), such talent exuding from both.  Andy and Freddie: trumpets’ titans. The crowd is happy.

As the jam gets deeper and the night sinks in, the quintet changes its guise slightly to give space to other musicians and a fair rest to the ones that have been playing a while.  

An aptly slow piece played “for all the lovers in the crowd” highlights the great notes from Sam Burgess’s bass, pivotal in the rendition with, this time, the great John Turnville on piano. 

Ronnie would be proud of this eclectic, talented jam session. The crowd certainly is and as they disperse into the early hours of the morning - one thing is certain, a great time was had by all! 

 

Review: Erminia Yardley

Photographs: Carl Hyde, used with permission and thanks!

 

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