York Theatre Royal – 02 September 2022
Reviewed by Sal Marino
Not being a jazz expert of any kind personally (apart from being a Miles Davis fan and enjoying some events over the years), I won’t embarrass myself by trying to say anything technical or ‘clever’ so this review is purely from a musical entertainment point of view and wow – entertained I most definitely was – to the brim and overflowing! The Ronnie Scott’s Story at the wonderful York Theatre Royal (where the staff are so warm and accommodating – especially the lovely lady who looked after us in the circle seats), was not only awe-inspiring and fabulous but I came away being blown away and just want to see and learn more about this amazing musical genre!
It’s hard to know where to start because every performer (James Pearson – piano, Alex Garnett – Saxophone, Chris Higginbottom – drums, Sam Burgess – bass and Natalie Williams – Vocals) and every number was outstanding, genius and mesmerising! I felt privileged to be there, truly! What also struck me about this concert, putting the the pure, unquestionable talent aside, was that the musicians were also seductive storytellers and made us laugh! What could be better than music and laughter together – not much else!
If being honest, I have never had any real appreciation for the drums before as it’s often the vocals or the saxophone that steal the show but seeing the Ronnie Scott’s Story has given me a new perspective (and I’m sure the rest of the audience too) because I was totally entranced at points during the show. What we heard, saw and experienced was simply ‘magic’ – magic that was so magnificently weaved and crafted by this incredible instrument – it was scintillating! Every musician on the stage was enthralling (the band members are after all Ronnie’s ‘All stars’) but I think because I’ve never seen drumming like this before, I was quite taken aback and now I’m hooked! Thank you to Chris for that spell-binding solo you performed in the middle of the show.
Alex on the saxophone, who gave a most witty narrative as well as being a world-class player, actually performed on one of Ronnie’s own saxophone’s which felt like an honour and the perfect homage to the man himself. I could not agree more with Alex when he commented that, “It’s important to support live music.” and we really must or we’ll lose it and that is unthinkable! Rather than choosing to stay in and binge on the latest Netflix series, experiencing a ‘live’ musical performance – which has been scientifically proven to improve our physical and mental health – seems like the better choice to me and if it’s shared with others, even better – spread the love! Obviously in today’s current climate it can be difficult to justify the cost but I’ll certainly be saving up to see another gig soon whenever possible.
The Ronnie Scott’s Story will also teach you about some of jazz’s: greatest stars, styles, times and of course about Ronnie too. The legend that is Nina Simone (who the ‘All Stars’ did a phenomenal tribute to) said, “Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being and a way of thinking.” and after last night’s performance I totally concur. I would like to end this review by expressing much appreciation and gratitude to the Ronnie Scott’s Story All Stars – you’ve sent me and I’m sure many others on a beautiful and new musical journey.