Getting the platters that matter. It’s what it’s always been about. Straight in to Transatlantic Records Limited in Marylebone Lane W.1. Eyes scanning some great records such as ‘Kirk’s Work’ by Roland Kirk, and ‘Hip Soul’ by Shirley Scott. I pull out a copy of ‘Presenting The Harry South Big Band’ and check out the dream line up of British artists involved. Look at the sax section alone: Roy Willox, Alan Branscombe, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrisey and Pete King. ‘Six To One Bar’ is a blues in 6/4 time, and it hits the spot. Of course I already know of Harry South, having seen him with his orchester earlier in the year at the Marquee, playing alongside some of the musicians already mentioned plus Georgie Fame on vocals.
It’s all about getting the nights right. You usually avoid the 100 Club as it’s too trad, but every so often they may put on somebody like Art Themen, so you pop down there, but if you have the night wrong, you are bombarded with R&B styles such as Steve Darbyshire and The Yum Yums or maybe The Artwoods. Even our old haunt, Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead, has given itself over totally to these kind of acts. No jazz on the menu there these days!
The best place in town, is in fact the newest place in town. It is of course, dear old Ronnie Scott’s, who has moved to new larger premises at 47 Frith Street, although it still only holds 160 people. Now it’s open from 8.30 till 3am, with the good news being that the bar is open until it closes and not 1am like the old gaff. Best gig for me personally was the fantastic Mark Murphy with Alan Haven on organ duties and Tony Crombie on drums. That was some gig! But that’s the great thing about Ronnie’s, the fact that although some may say it’s expensive, in reality they always provide a great vocalist backed by a great band. For instance, earlier this year Ernestine Anderson backed by Yusef Lateef, or Sonny Rollins on another occasion. Its lack of dancefloor guarantees you have to watch and listen to the band. The year of Jazz ’66 belongs to Ronnie Scott’s smoke-stained club!