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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Boppin’ With Scott

Proper Records PROPERBOX 131



CD 1

1. On the Sunny Side of the Street
2. Scrubber Time
3. Ad Lib Frolic
4. Lady Be Good
5. Boppin' At Esquire
6. Idabop
7. What Is This Thing Called Love
8. Buzzy (Pts. 1 & 2)
9. How High the Moon (Pts. 1 & 2)
10. Wee Dot
11. Coquette
12. 52nd Street Theme
13. Ow
14. Don't Blame Me
15. Stoned
16. Scrapple From the Apple
17. Donna Lee
CD 2

1. Gone With the Windmill
2. Barbados
3. Elevenses
4. Ool-Ya-Koo
5. Galaxy
6. Brand's Essence
7. Marshall's Plan
8. Too Marvellous For Words
9. Have You Met Miss Jones
10. September Song
11. Flamingo
12. Chasin' the Bird
13. Little Willie Leaps
14. El Sino
15. Crazy Rhythm
16. Close Your Eyes
17. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
18. The Nearness Of You
19. All Of Me
20. Not So Fast
21. Battle Royal
22. Fast
23. Twin Beds
24. Leap Year
25. The Champ
CD 3

1. Once In a While
2. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
3. Scott's Expedition
4. Avalon
5. Love Me Or Leave Me
6. The Champ
7. All the Things You Are
8. Pantagrulian
9. Mullenium
10. Nemo
11. The Nearness Of You
12. Popo
13. The Champ
14. Nemo
15. All the Things You Are
CD 4

1. Troubled Air
2. Eureka
3. Seven Eleven
4. I May Be Wrong
5. On the Alamo
6. Day Dream
7. What's New
8. Ballot Box
9. Lover Come Back To Me
10. Compos Mentos
11. Stompin' At the Savoy
12. Body Beautiful
13. Sunshine On a Dull Day
14. Fools Rush In
15. Poor Butterfly
16. Perfidia
17. S'il Vous Plait
18. Jordu
19. Bang
20. With Every Breath I Take
21. A Night In Tunisia
22. The Big Fist
23. I'll Take Romance
24. Speak Low


Ronnie Scott is probably best known as the founder and long-term proprietor of the most famous jazz club in London. Yet he was also a significant tenor-saxist who played an important role in the development of British jazz. So this four-CD boxed set is not only a survey of his early years but also a portrait of how British jazz developed in the postwar years.

Ronnie was typical of British jazzmen in being heavily influenced what was happening in the USA, which was then the undoubted centre of jazz. Like many other British players, Ronnie joined "Geraldo’s Navy" of young musicians who got jobs aboard transatlantic liners so that they could witness the New York jazz scene for themselves. These visits cemented Ronnie’s interest in bebop, and the tracks in this collection illustrate his gradual mastery of the form.

The first tracks on CD1 are themselves derivative, suggesting Ronnie’s debt to such tenorists as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins (with pianist Norman Stenfalt sounding very like Teddy Wilson). But you can already hear a bebop influence in Scrubber Time, while Ted Heath’s big band sound on Ad Lib Frolic seems to echo such Stan Kenton numbers as Intermission Riff. By the time we reach Charlie Parker’s composition Buzzy, the bebop influence is well established. But this lusty performance recorded at Birmingham Town Hall in 1946 includes Carlo Krahmer’s bass drum thudding away with four-in-a-bar, suggesting that the bebop basics were not yet integrated. This track - and How High the Moon from the same concert - actually sounds more like a Jazz at the Philharmonic blowing session than a performance by Parker and Gillespie. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, American musicians could feel flattered, but it would still be a while before the British jazzers found their own voices. Subsequent tracks show this voice developing very gradually, as Ronnie Scott slowly builds his own personal style. The 1949 recordings made at London’s King George Hall by the "Ronnie Scott Club XI Boptet" continue the devotion to bebop but the sound quality here is decidedly poor and fuzzy.

The second CD starts with five cuts recorded in 1949 by Alan Dean’s Beboppers, with Alan Dean scatting like mad and Laurie Morgan providing over-busy drums in bop style. But there are some confident solos from Ronnie Scott and a young altoist called Johnny (or John) Dankworth. This CD shows Scott gradually moving away from bebop and sounding more like Stan Getz on such 1951 tracks as Close Your Eyes with the Ronnie Ball Trio.

And so Ronnie continued to develop, although the American influence continued to be strong. A 1952 track like Popo betrays the influence of Shorty Rogers and the American west coast. But by the fourth CD, Ronnie Scott is becoming his own man, despite British jazzers too often being tempted to imitate the Americans instead of creating their own music.

As I said, this collection enables us to trace changes in British jazz during the postwar decade, and it is interesting to hear the contributions from such notable British musicians as Kenny Baker, Jimmy Deuchar, Derek Humble and Victor Feldman. So this boxed set is a fascinating historical document as well as containing some fine music. It also embodies a salutary lesson about the dangers of imitation – a trap that British jazz finally escaped, none too soon.

Tony Augarde





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