29-06-06

Ronnie Scott's

From the Financial Times

Published: June 27 2006 22:12 | Last updated: June 27 2006 22:12

 

Ronnie Scott's to release archive of jazz greats
By Bob Sherwood

Previously unheard live sessions of some of the great names of jazz are
set to be sold online as digital downloads as Ronnie Scott's, the iconic
Soho venue, joins the iPod generation.

The London jazz club - which reopened this week after a £2.5m
refurbishment - is in discussions with Universal Music Group on a
worldwide distribution deal to make its vast archive of live sessions
available online and on CD.

The club's owners are keen to capitalise on its vault of hundreds of
unheard recordings of jazz greats, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella
Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan and Buddy Rich.

The club made its name by attracting the biggest jazz names to its dark,
smoke-filled stage since the 1960s, a world away from the digital media
world. But this move, orchestrated by Sally Greene, theatrical impresario,
producer and restaurateur, who bought Ronnie Scott's last year, will make
seminal jazz sessions of the 1960s, 70s and 80s available to music fans
across the world for the first time.

Leo Green, Ronnie Scott's artistic director, said no deal had been
finalised but an agreement with a large record company could be announced
next month. He said: "We have to do it very carefully and sensitively.
It's not about milking a cash cow, it's about preserving the legacy.

"It's pretty much a potted history of jazz. Jazz fans all over the world
can't come here but now we can give them some of what's been going on at
Ronnie Scott's."

The club is also initiating regular podcasts via its website, in
conjunction with iTunes, to make jazz more accessible to modern listeners.

Ronnie Scott's sessions have been released before, but the archive of
recordings, made on a number of different formats dating back to quarter-
inch tape, is far larger than the owners realised after many were
discovered by accident during the three-month renovation leading up to the
club's relaunch on Monday.

Nick Moss, spokesman for Ronnie Scott's, said: "Every time we opened up a
room for the refurbishment, we would find another cupboard full of tapes.
There were even some behind a sealed door in a ladies toilet in the
upstairs bar. We just kept finding them."

The club, which has hosted the likes of Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Count
Basie, is still not even quite sure of precisely what jazz gems it has in
its vaults: some of the tapes' labels have peeled off and the archive that
runs into thousands of tracks is yet to be catalogued. One of the problems
is simply finding old-format machines to play the tapes on.

The club hopes to turn the recordings into compilation albums, possibly
releasing one a year.

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