Thoughts on “Dexterity” – Vasilis Xenopoulis’ Quartet, 26 October 2022

There is a rule. If the band is having a good time, the audience will be having a good time. We had a great time, we did.  Vasilis, Ross, Simon and Steve were eager to get back to music they had not played for some time. Their eagerness was increased by a wait for three of them on the cursed A12, but they were all daisy fresh and ready to rock.

They made us happy right away with Gordon’s “Evergreenish”.  We got our first taste of wonderful musicianship from all four, and the intense listening among them was very visible to us. 

We were treated to lots of styles. For example, the first set ended with Gordon’s “Society Red”, which was done as a funky tune. As an aside, I have always wondered about the current use of the word “funk”, as as far as I can find out, it originally described the smell of a New Orleans bordello. Anyway, the tune was great fun. 

We had some beautiful ballads. Donald Byrd’s “Tanya” in the second set was one example, Vasilis’s tone was just right. Our Steve Jordan has a comment on it in his set list below.

Ross would be a treat to a deaf person. His whole body moves with the music whether soloing or as an accompanist. He is one of two musicians able to use all three pedals – soft, sustenuto and sustain – to great effect. His superb musicianship was unhampered by a piano string breaking in the second half, causing havoc to Bb two octaves above middle C. 

Steve and Simon were grinning from ear to ear during many of the tunes, as their colleagues produced new riffs and quotes. Both of them have “big ears” which helps; that is to say they listen like crazy.

That’s enough. Really great gig. Another to follow in less than a week’s time, with Pete Oxley’s “Flight of Hand”. It will be a gas. Do join us.

Take care,



Vasilis Xenopoulis, Tenor Sax; Ross Stanley, Piano; Simon Thorpe, Bass; Steve Brown, Drums.

  1. Evergreenish (Dexter Gordon) from the 1970 album, The Jumpin’ Blues
  2. Hanky Panky (Dexter Gordon) from album Clubhouse
  3. Soy Califa (Dexter Gordon) from album A Swingin’ Affair. Exuberant vocal at beginning from Simon Thorpe.
  4. I’m A Fool To Want You (Joel Herron/Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf) from album Clubhouse.  Also covered by Billie Holliday
  5. Society Red from 1961 album Doin’ Alright (Dexter Gordon). Certainly has a funky groove, yet funk wasn’t heard until the mid ‘60s when James Brown created Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. It’s You or No One (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) from the live album of the same name, recorded in 1964 at Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen. DG lived in Denmark and often performed at the Montmartre
  2. Tanya (Donald Byrd) from the 1964 album One Flight Up.  There was indeed a similarity to Coltrane’s style in this rendition, although DG was an influence on Coltrane rather than the other way round.
  3. Montmartre (Dexter Gordon) from the album The Tower of Power.  Performed with a Latin Jazz tempo.  Did anyone else hear “Windmills of my Mind” in there?
  4. Tivoli (Dexter Gordon) from the 1975 album More Than You Know.  A jazz waltz inspired by Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen.

    10. Second Balcony Jump (Billy Eckstine) from the 1962 album, Go!

     Encore: If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron/ Carl Sigman) from the 1970 album, The Jumpin’ Blues

On Tuesday, 10 January, The Magpie Trio – Canceled due to illness.

We are sorry to announce that the gig had to be cancelled due to illness in the band. We wish Sam and family a speedy recovery. He leaves us with a present: a 45 minute video of the band on YouTube.

George Crowley Tenor Sax

Tom Farmer Bass

Sam Jesson Drums

“a free-wheeling polyrhythmic tour de force and to these ears an absolute delight” – Jazz Mann

The Magpie Trio is led by Sam Jesson on drums who explains that much of the music in the band’s set are reworkings of popular songs as arranged by the great Ahmad Jamal. The intent is to capture the spirit of the original artist rather than to simply play his greatest hits. Sam has been a key figure on the London Jazz scene for some time now and this tour marks his debut as a bandleader in trio with Tom Farmer from the superb Empirical and George Crowley from the Ivo Neame Quartet.

United by their love for the tradition of legendary jazz trios from Ahmed Jamal to Sonny Rollins, Oscar Peterson to Dewey Redman, the trio wind their way through many gems of the jazz canon – some lesser known than others – sometimes deconstructing and breathing new life, sometimes paying homage to classic arrangements, with a devoted focus on making music that feels honest and joyous.

“…simultaneously cherished where jazz has been, and relished where it might be headed” – John Fordham, The Guardian 

Thoughts on Antonio Forcione – 12 October 2022

Antonio  Forcione gave us a most  masterful,  joyous and beautifully presented gig on solo guitar and in duo with a drummer who wasn’t there. in the second half, he played Mancini’s “The Cool Cat”, and asked us to imagine that a fine drummer was to his right. The drummer did the intro, then accompanied Antonio. The two traded 4s. At the end when Antonio gestured to his right, we all applauded the drummer. I was sure he was using brushes and Antoni agrees, sticks would be too loud for a solo guitarist.

Let’s amplify some of those adjectives:

Masterful: Antonio is a master of the complete instrument. He uses classical fingering, plectrum, hammering, harmonics, and a wide variety of percussion effects. At times he uses them altogether. 

Joyous: The music is amazing It doesn’t mean much if the performer can’t tell a story when he plays. Antonio has soul, and tells the stories.

Beautiful: Presentation is important. Antonio is fun to be  with as a performer in our small space. He chatted with us about his coming to London as a young man, stories about Mandela, McCartney and others. We so enjoyed the chat and fun, and he liked the attentive audience, a feature of our club.

Searching for highlights is like finding the best diamond in a pile of them, Antonio’s “Touch Wood” was the most visual and percussive song. He made sounds from every part of the guitar, covering all of a drum kit except for the cymbals. I bet he could do those if he wanted to .

His “African Dawn’ was a tribute to Mandela. This was a great example of storytelling with music. “Alhambra” gave us the profound effect of visiting that marvellous place. He brought back the visit Roberta and I made to Alhambra and the effect it had.

I loved his take on Brubeck’s 5/4 classic, “Take Five”, and on “Come Together”. “I Heard It On The Grapevine”, made famous by Marvin Gaye, is something of an anthem for Antonio.

It was a wonderful gig and we want him back, please.

On the 26th of October, we have Vasilis Xenopoulos  and Ross Stanley back, with Simsn Thorpe and Steve Brown. This superb quartet will be giving us the music of Dexter Gordon. Don’t miss it

Take care,


Brenda made a set list for me: Thank you. I hope I got the attributions right.

Tis a Joy – Antonio Forcione

Tarita – Antonio Forcione

African Dawn – Antonio Forcione

Take Five – Dave Brubeck

Touch Wood – Antonio Forcione


Heartbeat – Antonio Forcione

Come Together – Lennon/McCartney

Message in a Bottle – Sting

The Cool Cat – Henry Mancini

Alhambra – Antonio Forcione

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Whitfield/Strong

Quanta La Mera – Marti/Fernández

Thoughts on Nigel Price’s “Wes Re Imagined”, 28 September 2022

Nicole Prices's "Wes Reimagined", 28 September 2022

We had to wait a whole month for this gig. It was hugely worth it, a wonderful gig.  We had Joel Barford powerful on drums, Ross Stanley world class on the Hammond B3, Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor and Nigel Price leading on guitar. They have been on tour for a while, so they are very tight together, but are still having a ton of fun with the music. It was mostly music by or loved by Wes Montgomery. So we had world class music played by stunning musicians having a great time.

The gig was called “Wes Re Imagined”. Nigel had orchestrated versions of the music in different vibes from the originals. He is a very good presenter, and told us all about his ideas for each song. So why, I ask myself, did I bloody not write it all down?

 They began with an up-tempo “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”,  which got us right in the mood from the off. Jimmy Smith’s `’Mellow Mood” gave is a great view of what could be done on the B3. Who knew that Ross could play chords on the pedal board? What an amazing player. The first set ended with Montgomery’s “Leila”, beautiful.

And of course, it got even better in the second set. Watching the accompaniment during the solos was such a treat. They knew each other, and they listened hard. They each came out with riffs that made their colleagues grin.

Joel is a very young, very very talented player. His solos were pretty spectacular and powerful. In our small room, maybe he was a bit too powerful. 

If you were not there, I am sad for you. But you have a chance to hear one of the greats on 12 October, when Antonio Forcione will be with us. Don’t miss it. 

Take care,


Steve Jordan provided a set list.

  1. This Could Be The Start of Something Big (Steve Allen)
  2. Far Wes (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)
  3. Mellow Mood (Jimmy Smith) subsequently recorded by Dr Lonnie Smith on the album, Spiral
  4. Dreamsville (Henry Mancini)
  5. Leila (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)

*          *          *           *         *        *        *

  1. Wet and Dry (Nigel Price) part of the new melody is lifted from Ed Bickert’s solo on Come Rain or Come Shine by Arlen & Mercer
  2. Jingles (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery) played as a samba
  3. So Do It! (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)
  4. Movin’ Along (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery
  5. 10.Road Song (John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery)