Art Themen has recently bought a tenor saxophone, a Selmer Super Balanced Action which was owned by Ronnie Scott, and will play it at the Frith Street club on 14 June. Hats off (seriously) to the copywriter at Ronnie Scott’s who has written: “Art is thrilled to be bringing the instrument back to its spiritual home.”
There is also speculation that Ronnie Scott may have been given this instrument in gratitude by Hank Mobley….
Art Themen explained the background to his acquisition of the instrument to Sebastian:
“On my birthday last November I got a call from Roger Baycock who runs a music shop in Oxford. I did look into his shop many years ago and remember seeing both Tubby & Ronnie’s horns in the display cabinet. Roger was certainly a bit of a character, for on the wall of the shop was a poster saying ‘Warning. Prices may vary according to the attitude of the customer’.
“As he was nearing retirement, he told me that he had Ronnies’ horn for sale and wanted it to good go to a good home. He was therefore ringing round to see if anyone would be interested. I asked him how many people he’d phoned and as he said I was the first, I blurted out “I’ll have it”. In view of what I said about Roger being a hard-nosed businessman it’s greatly to his credit that he sold it to me for the going rate.”
The instrument in question is a very late SBA, from 1953, shortly before the introduction of the Mark VI. The mention of “Hank Mobley” and “Selmer SBA” brings to mind an iconic album and a picture that stays in the mind (not published here for copyright reasons …here is a LINK to it). Calling one guru today has led me to the conclusion that this instrument is almost certainly NOT the (earlier) SBA on which Hank Mobley recorded the classic Soul Station.
Bookings for Ronnie Scott’s on 14 June (Art Themen Quintet with Pete Whittaker (organ & piano), George Double (drums) , Martin Shaw (trumpet). Simon Thorpe (bass)