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Vasilis Xenopoulos & the Wind Machine  -  Thu Apr 24, 2014  |  08:00 pm
Admission £ 8.00 ( £ 6.00 concessions)
Vasilis Xenopoulos first appeared in the North East as far back as May 2008 when he joined his old friend Paul Edis for a couple of gigs, and he's been back on several subsequent occasions, building a substantial fan base for his interpretation of the mainstream saxophone tradition. Yet somehow he's never had a gig with Jazz North East, and he's never appeared in the region as leader of his own group.

With this gig we're glad to make good both omissions. The Wind Machine, first unveiled at the Ealing Jazz Festival in July 2013, is an attempt to capture the spirit of the great big bands with just a quintet, and is inspired by Stanley Turrentine's 1963 album 'A Chip Off the Old Block', which recast classic Count Basie arrangements for a small ensemble. Vasi's group takes this further, drawing on the repertoires not just of Basie, but also of Ellington, Herman, Thad Jones and Buddy Rich, from the last great big band era of the 1950s to '70s.

The band he's pulled together for this gig is not exactly his regular quintet, but a really tasty mix of A-list Londoners and two of our finest North East players. Trumpeter Martin Shaw and drummer Matt Home are both high on the capital's list of 'go-to' players, steeped in the mainstream jazz tradition but able to take the music in a more contemporary direction when required, while pianist Paul Edis and bassist Andy Champion fall into the 'needs no introduction' category for North East jazz fans! All in all this is a band that's superbly equipped to execute the leader's musical vision.

So, perhaps a long overdue first JNE gig for Vasilis, but one that we're sure won't be his last.