Soul-searching and discord as Ronnie Scott's director quits

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The Independent Culture

The legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott's has been thrown into turmoil by the resignation of its artistic director. Leo Green is believed to have quit after a blazing row with Sally Greene, who bought the London venue two years ago.

In an email to colleagues, Mr Green, 33, said he was leaving after "some soul-searching". He also attacked co-workers for their musical ignorance and apparent lack of interest in business matters, citing the "total inability of the club to attract a general manager who lasted more than a few months".

"When it came to the point where certain members of management had to ask me who McCoy Tyner [the veteran US jazz pianist] was, I arrived, fairly rapidly, at the conclusion that perhaps my skills were to be best utilised elsewhere," he added.

Mr Green, whose father, Benny, was a saxophonist, broadcaster and friend of the club's founder, Ronnie Scott, said his responsibility at the venue was limited to booking acts, not deciding on business strategy such as ticket pricing.

The club, based at Frith Street in London's Soho, has faced criticism since it was bought by Ms Greene and Michael Watt, an Australian businessman, for an undisclosed sum in 2005.

When it was re-opened in June after a 2.38m makeover, purists complained about the soaring ticket prices and pop-star bookings, which they said were driven by commercial interests rather than concern for quality jazz.

"There has been growing concern in the jazz community that... Ronnie Scott's was becoming an upscale supper club," said John Newey, the editor of Jazzwise magazine. "It is absolutely vital that this icon of the jazz world, its crown jewels, is protected. We want it to succeed."

Yesterday, the club denied reports of a rift between Mr Green and Ms Greene. But last month, Mr Green said: "I suppose the most polite phrase I can use... is that there have been 'artistic differences'."

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