If jazz is your thing, then perhaps the best-known permanent venue for jazz in the world is the London club Ronnie Scott’s nestled in Frith Street, Soho. [It was also famous for perhaps the best blue-cheese burger in the UK and the late Ronnie’s equally blue jokes when he introduced the acts such as ‘Our next guest is one of the finest musicians in the country. In the city, he's crap’.]
Opened in 1959, the world-renowned club was one of the first places in the UK to host American jazz musicians, and over the years has seen performances from legendary artists including Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Evans.
But being a jazz institution was no protection against coronavirus and the Live Event lockdown that was to follow: Scott’s closed back in March along with the rest of London’s music venues.
However the management of Ronnie Scott’s have confirmed the venue will now open on September 19.
Initially the club had planned to open its doors again in August but changes in UK government regulations meant delaying this until September 19.
The club has been deep-cleaned and will open with a reduced capacity of 50%. A number of safety measures have been put in place to ensure the wellbeing of customers. These include social distancing guidelines, temperature checks on arrival and hand sanitiser stations throughout the club.
The use of ‘elegant’ screens in some seating areas will ensure that inspite of the 50 percent capacity the club still feels as warm and cosy as usual.
This is Memphis Slim playing at Ronnie Scott's back in the 80s. Incrediblehttps://t.co/zzNrSPGZVZ— Gérard (@gedzuki) September 4, 2020
If waiting until Sept 19 is just too much, you can always go online to listen to the club’s radio station presented by singer composer Ian Shaw.
Fred Nash, Ronnie Scott’s general manager explains, ‘We are proud to have scored 100% in a Covid-safety audit without compromising the great atmosphere of the club and not putting in measures which are quite frankly weird or unnecessary.
The club’s schedule can be checked online here.
‘We believe we can welcome customers back safely whilst maintaining the old-school hospitality values we are known for. We’re certain that when our customers return, they will feel we have got it just right.’
The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars will reopen the club on September 19 and the listings until the end of October feature a mix of jazz royalty and rising stars including Emma Smith, Mark Kavuma, Soweto Kinch and Ashley Henry.
As Ronnie Scott’s finally opens for the first time in 137 days, jazz lovers from across the capital will hope the venue manages to maintain its unique ambience, while its audience keep their distance from each other.