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Bebop Spoken There

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Vasil Xenopoulos Rides Again - Cherry Tree Restaurant, Jesmond.

Vasilis Xenopoulos (ten), Paul Edis (pno), Mick Shoulder (bs), Adam Sinclair (dms).
Different venue, different audience, same band, same tunes? This would be the easy way out but not for Vasy, Paul and Co.
Totally different set list yet equally as enjoyable.
Given that the quartet were playing for diners they began swinging gently along on "Witchcraft" with Vasy playing chorus after chorus incorporating a brief sortie into "Desifinado" before handing over to Paul who kept the mood going. "One Note Samba" and "Wave" provided the obligatory Bossa Nova moments with an original(ish) "Blues For Geordieland" going down the 12 bar route. An almost, but not quite, tongue in cheek version of "Honeysuckle Rose" built up to a blast on "Killer Joe".
Even unmiked, Vasy still has this wonderful sound that clings to the body of the instrument before erupting in a glorious cascade of audio colours.
As the room filled up and the rhythm section was augmented by knives and forks and plates and chitter chatter so the band moved through the gears accordingly and by the interval they were leaving the Earth's gravitational pull - Destination Mars.
At this point I will digress and let my tastebuds describe my Sirloin Steak.
"8 oz of heaven cooked to our preferred medium rare status and served with French Fries, tomato, mushroom and garnish. This was a culinary orgasm. My compliments to the chef he is to haute cuisine what Vasilis Xenopoulos is to le jazz moderne."
Service too is excellent and, above all, the owner is knowlegable and jazz friendly. How many restaurateurs do you know who can wax eloquently about Ellis Larkins (an American Paul Edis) or still recall the magic of seeing Sinatra at the Royal Festival Hall?
Back to tonight. The second set saw the band in orbit - "Smile", the bluesiest instrumental version of "Georgia on my Mind" that you are ever going to hear in a Jesmond restaurant, "Love For Sale", "Canteloupe Island", "The Nearness of You" - so evocative it sent pictures of loved ones past present and future floating across the crowded room.
If I seem to have neglected the rhythm section I hope they'll forgive me. Paul Edis fingered up his usual storm although perhaps marginally undermiked. He got in some good Garner licks (or was it Fats?) on Honeysuckle and a lot of his own brilliant and imaginative solos on the others. Mick and Adam, because of the diner situation were relatively subdued tonight although it didn't prevent them keeping it all together.
As I left "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing" kept the joint jumping and it crossed my mind that "The Cherry Tree Restaurant on Jesmond's Osborne Road is as close to a big city jazz venue that we've had in Newcastle for many years.
The paradoxical thing is that most of the audience are probably only fringe fans yet the ambience is jazzier than in many of the other out and out jazz places.
Long may it reign which it also did outside (rain).
Lance.

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