Review by Roger van Schaick (5.10.01)

Saxophonist Derek Nash, performing with the house trio, got the Spin's new season off to a blistering start last Thursday. At the end of the evening (11pm precisely, despite the protests, thanks to our ludicrous licensing laws) the people emerging onto Oxford High Street were puffing their cheeks out and shaking their heads as if they had come out of a hot sauna. The cleansing had been emotional rather than physical, the result of a couple of hours of intense musical communication.

Derek Nash is no ordinary guest, for in his capacity as a sound engineer he worked on the recent CD by guitarist Pete Oxley's touring band, which also includes bassist Raph Mizraki. He knows these musicians well and is relaxed in their company. Even as a musician, Nash is a man of many parts. Last time he was in this area, at the Railway Inn at Culham, (where he was to return the next night) he was playing tightly arranged, slightly retro, swing and blues. Here at the Spin he was in modern jazz mode, blowing freely on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes.

What makes Nash such an electrifying performer is that, musically, he means everything he says. Every note seems to come straight from the heart, every solo is a deeply felt response to the original composition. Nash's sheer joy in making music communicates itself to the audience, and he had us in the palm of his hand from the first notes.

The house trio responded magnificently: Pete Oxley on guitar with harmonic sophistication, Raph Mizraki on electric bass with irresistable funkiness. And Mark Doffman on drums showed that (if you're good) you can generate incredible rhythmic excitement by playing softly. Their version of Branford Marsalis's Mo' Better Blues, beginning and ending with drum/soprano sax interchanges, was a triumph.