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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vasilis Xenopoulos with the Paul Edis Trio @ Opus 4 Jazz Club. November 21

Vasilis Xenopoulos (tenor saxophone), Paul Edis (piano), Andy Champion (double bass) & Adam Sinclair (drums)
(Review by Russell).
Vasilis Xenopoulos was taking no chances. On his last visit to the Traveller’s Rest in Darlington he made it in the nick of time (seven hours on the M1).This time, London-Darlington by train appeared to be a better bet. Vasi X (typing Xenopoulos a number of times could result in a case of rsi) arrived in good time (3:30pm!) and took time out to check-out Darlington town centre (TK Maxx a major attraction).
The Traveller’s Rest is a comfortable roadhouse pub in Cockerton on the outskirts of town. The Ferryhill Brewery a guest at the bar, talk of jazz, festivals, birthdays, a lost wallet, a pleasant way to spend a half hour or so waiting for Vasi and co. to complete their soundcheck in the upstairs room. A queue formed long before the doors opened, winding its way down the stairs. A queue at a jazz gig!!! The place was packed, beer flowed, jazz deity looked down from the walls – Dizzy, Lady Day, Tubbs, Zoot et al – ready to commune with the Greek God of Xenopoulos.
Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons. Then the Great American Songbook. Vasi X knows his stuff and mixes it up to great effect. A bop workout, a ballad, waltz tunes, an impromptu request – nothing gets by him. Tiny Capers opened the show with Vasi in spectacular form. His solo didn’t elicit mere applause. It was greeted with full-throated cheers the like of which aren’t heard at your regular jazz gig. Vasi shared the stand with long-time friend Paul Edis. The acclaimed north east-based pianist played a blinder (what’s new?) and is a headline attraction in his own right. Superb playing; the anticipating accompanist, a razor sharp ear to the main man’s tenor inventions and solo flights par excellence. Talking of accomplished soloists…Andy Champion was on the gig. As rhythm sections go, the phrase ‘first call’ springs to mind. Working alongside Adam Sinclair, they constituted the dream team. Champion as accompanist was as good as it gets – ‘on-the-money’ playing, an abundance of technique held in check. And then, stepping up to solo – if there is a better bass player in the UK Bebop Spoken Here needs to know. The ‘sartorially elegant’ Adam Sinclair (he likes to wear a tie) is the best in the business – if there is a better drummer Bebop Spoken Here needs to know!
Vasi mined the Blue Note catalogue. Lee Morgan’s Cesora (from the Cornbread album) a gem, Champion broke a string and played on. Our tenor man took a request (affording Champion time to re-string) and in doing so re-examined Summertime (a familiar tune, a new perspective). A steaming Dat Dere had one thinking it couldn’t get any better. Opus 4 Jazz Club patrons were having a ball. Their cheering had to be heard to be believed. No polite applause for them, this was 52nd Street, Darlo-style!
The interval; bar staff run off their feet, chatter, chatter, Guitarist Tom Stephenson (soon to further his studies with Tommy Smith and co.) was in the house and was knocked-out by the first set. He wasn’t alone! Vasi and Edis had their respective latest CDs available at the door (both come highly recommended), made themselves available to chat with the Opus 4 regulars and the second set couldn’t possibly match the first, could it?
Second set. Groove Merchant (it’s on Vasi’s Wind Machine album) upped the stakes. The standard impossibly high, the excitement levels at fever pitch, your reviewer decided the listening experience was everything (pen and note pad lay dormant). Sit back and enjoy, you only live once. Manteca would challenge Adam Sinclair, so said Vasi. Oh, yeah? It didn’t phase him one little bit. Scorching it was, Sinclair had it down. More Cheers. Fats Waller’s Jitterbug Waltz, You Must Believe in Spring More cheering, people on their feet, a cry of Bravo!  If you think this sounds like it was a canny gig, you’re right. The good news is they’re going to do it all again tomorrow night at the Black Bull in Blaydon. If you love listening to your old Blue Note albums, if you love the GASbook, if you know fantastic, swinging tenor playing when you hear it, then this is your chance. No ifs, buts or maybees. If you are a jazz fan, no excuses, get to the Black Bull, Sunday, 8:00pm. The place should be full to capacity. Get there early, they’re likely to be queuing round the block.           
Russell.                       

        


             

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