Preview: Ray Charles Revue feat. Jeremy Sassoon – Ronnie Scott’s – Saturday 11th August. Sarah Ellen Hughes Writes…
Singer, pianist and band-leader Jeremy Sassoon will be appearing for the first time at Ronnie Scott’s this Saturday 11th with a revue show dedicated to the music of Ray Charles. This is part of the Classic Jazz Series of concerts celebrating the Olympics and running at the club from 27th July – 12th August.
Ronnie Scott’s is something of a dream for Sassoon, who spent many an hour hanging out in the then-smoky club in his youth, the club being a few hundred yards from the Middlesex Hospital where he studied medicine. A number of years after qualifying, Sassoon left his career in psychiatry to make the transition into music, a love of which was forged learning piano and trumpet as a child.
The progression to singing came much later – Sassoon started off as a jazz pianist collaborating with singers, only to become a singer himself “almost by accident.” He explains, “I worked for 8 years with jazz/gospel singer Paul Bentley. It was only when Paul suddenly had to give up singing in 2010 for personal reasons that I had little option but to start singing our existing repertoire, and that’s how my singing career began!”
The Ray Charles Revue focuses on the music of one of Sassoon’s heroes, and is designed to mix well-known Ray Charles hits with more obscure, lesser-known tunes. It features a selection of arrangements showcasing Sassoon’s smoky voice to great effect.
Sassoon’s Ray Charles project was first aired at the Manchester Jazz Festival in 2009, where a superb band, featuring Mike Walker on guitar, entertained a rain-drenched crowd of 700. This is where Sassoon realised the show had legs; he has continued performing it at various venues across the country.
The line-up for Ronnie’s will be a mixture of musicians from London and Manchester, including a rare London hearing of Mancunian saxophone legend Iain Dixon – who is also musical director– about whom City Life have said “Iain Dixon’s tenor is hard-hitting and he has that vocalised tone that defines the big-hearted, soulful saxophone.”
Saturday’s gig (sold out -returns only) will also feature Mike Smith – drums, Martin Shaw – trumpet, Winston Rollins – trombone, and Richard Hammond – bass.