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At the end of June 2016 disappointment holds sway, from the ballot box to the football field and Tuesday night saw me heading off to Leytonstone for some respite at the East Side Jazz Club. It is amazing how time flies and it is probably over 12 months since my last visit. Indeed it was my first visit to the new venue (Leytonstone and District Ex-Servicemen’s Club) with its floral kitsch stage dressing providing an unexpected splash of colour.
I was drawn by Vasilis Xenopoulos, a Greek tenor saxophonist and graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music. He shared the stage with guitar and bass stalwarts, Nigel Price and Simon Thorpe with the ever-present Clive Fenner on drum and MC duties.
Xenopoulis immediately won the audience over with his engaging personality before slowly revealing his excellent command of his instrument throughout a set which was made up of mainstream standards such as I Remember You, Autumn Leaves, Witchcraft and Imagination. I was equally impressed by the inventive guitar work of Nigel Price, whose schedule of forthcoming gigs confirms the the ex- James Taylor Quartet member is massively in demand. I have a weakness for good jazz guitar and was delighted when the third number of the set, Grant Green’s Mambo Inn was introduced.
East Side always have a raffle during the interval and one of this week’s prizes was a CD copy of Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth. Such was the versatility of this outfit that Vasilis was able to call Stolen Moments, one of the highpoints of the recording, seemingly on the spur of the moment, with the band delivering a solid version. Also of particular note was Nigel Price’s mash-up of Monk and Charlie Parker on Straight No Bounce which was an unlikely but excellent melding of Billie’s Bounce and Straight No Chaser.
Throughout the show, Simon Thorpe and Clive Fenner provided a rock-solid foundation and were able to show what they are capable of through their own short solos.
All in all, another fine night at East Side Jazz Club, where you are assured a warm welcome every week and which is well worth a visit (although they will be taking their summer break after 12 July through to 20 September). Indeed, next week’s annual visit by Derek Nash and the East Side R & B Band is highly recommended and a review from 2014 is here.