47 Frith Street Soho London W1D 4 HT
Mention Soho to any jazz fan and they’ll think of Ronnie Scott’s. For that matter, mention Ronnie Scott’s to any non-jazz fan and they’ll think of jazz. Open since 1959 (although nowadays around the corner from its original location on Gerrard Street), Ronnie’s was a key player in Soho’s jazz explosion in the 1960s and 1970s, and despite the passing of Scott in 1996 it still manages to retain some of that electrifying atmosphere. Inspired by the vibrant scene in the New York jazz clubs of the 1950s, tenor sax players Ronnie Scott and Pete King opened the joint as a tiny, informal venture, in the hope of providing a showcase for the best British jazz. The place soon extended to hosting American musicians too, among them Stan Getz, Ben Webster and Bill Evans, and eventually became the place to listen to jazz in London. More recently the scope has broadened to include all kinds of grassroots and bluesy sounds – Tom Waits and Mica Paris have played, among many others – as well as continuing to attract some of the biggest names in jazz. The crowd is a lively mix of tourists and Londoners, and the love of the music is palpable all around. There’s a supper-club ambience, and although it’s not stuffily formal they won’t let you in if you’re wearing flipflops and shorts.