Nigel Price Organ Trio + Vasilis Xenopoulos

This is my first live show review since October 2020 and I was very fortunate that it was with Nigel Price, his organ Trio and Vasilis Xenopoulos guesting. Tuesday 20 July I attended the Southampton Jazz Club at The Dolphin Hotel in the centre of the city. The weather was very warm, the atmosphere warmer and the anticipation of two good sets off the the scale.

Photo by SimplyJazzTalk

The band opened the evening with ‘Hit The Road’, from the 2014 album of the same name. A good upbeat number to get things moving with Joel Barford setting, and maintaining, the tempo. Some much appreciated phrase trading across the frontline and a good solo from Ross Stanley on the Hammond B3 organ. I believe the second track was ‘Far Wes’, from the recently released Wes Reimagined. This was a lovely brisk waltz tempo with a wonderful melody that allowed the great tone of Vasilis’ sax to shine.

‘Jingles’, also from Wes Reimagined, has a great Afro-Cuban vibe, the groove of which Joel Barford quickly got into. There was so much energy in Vasilis’ playing and the unaccompanied guitar solo from Nigel was simply sublime – in fact the only thing missing was Snowboy’s percussion and whistle (listen to the album, it is rather good). The pace was dropped down for the Fran Landesman tune ‘Spring can Really Hang You up the Most’. The blend of guitar and organ stood out for me on this track as did the brightness of tone of the sax. Joel’s drumming was subtle throughout and the variation in timbre from Ross Stanley’s playing was beautiful. The first set ended with ‘K B Blues’, which clearly demonstrated Nigel’s affinity with the form, and sent the audience into the break with smiles all round and the CD box being well delved into.

The second set opened with another from the latest album release: ‘Leila’. Vasilis Xenopoulos played the intro before handing over to Nigel Price on guitar. This was very good straight-ahead jazz with good rhythmic support from drummer Joel Barford and Ross Stanley on the Hammond B3. The mellow-toned sax solo stood out, as did the phrase trading between the musicians – including those phrases borrowed from other tunes. ‘On a Clear Day’ followed a similar musical structure with well played melodic lines on guitar, sax , and organ. The standout track for me was ‘Moving Along’. This was a terrific upbeat funk number with a great beat and a wonderful crescendo from sax and organ that brought the number to a climatic end.

Photo by SimplyJazzTalk

‘Smokescape’, from the Heads & Tails album, brought the evening back to the blues. The tune is based on a Kenny Burrell chord sequence and as we might expect, Nigel’s playing was another example as to why he is considered one of Britain’s finest jazz/blues guitarists. The second set, and the evening, was brought to a close with another tune ‘Bitter Sweet’, which might be considered an appropriate tune on which to finish. The evening was a success on many levels: live music played in front of a live audience. An excellent group with which to bring back live jazz music to the centre of Southampton and knowing how popular Nigel Price is, I should not be surprised to hear that he has been invited back to do it all again with a different set list – and if the budget can stretch to it maybe Snowboy can come along for the ride.

The latest album release from the Nigel Price Organ Trio, plus guests, is Wes Reimagined. The album has been very well received by the critics and can be purchased via Bandcamp.

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