FEELS LIKE HOME is a great jazz album. I think Vasilis is most at home playing the tenor. It sounds like that’s where his heart is.

Ubuntu music

Vasilis Xenopoulos – Tenor & Soprano Saxophone, Flute; Paul Edis – Piano; Joel Barford – Drums; Adam King – Double Bass

Hard bop jazz had elements of gospel and rhythm and blues. It was an alternative to the cooler, more cerebral West Coast cool jazz. Horace Silver may have been the most popular pianist in hard bop. On saxophone you could listen to Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Johnny Griffin, or Cannonball Adderley. Hard bop’s popularity was greatest in the 1950s and 1960s, but you can still hear it today. Listen to Greek saxophone player Vasilis Xenopoulos’s new album FEELS LIKE HOME.

Xenopoulos was born in Greece but now calls London home. He and pianist Paul Edis have been playing together for 20 years. FEELS LIKE HOME was composed and arranged by both musicians. The concept for the tunes is centered around home as a feeling, a place where your heart belongs.

‘Going Home’ is a great way to start the album. It swings jubilantly. It’s bluesy and dripping with melody. The tune shows off what a great quartet this is. Xenopoulos’s tenor has this big fat gorgeous tone. Paul Edis plays beautiful piano. Adam King’s muscular bass solo is resonant and compelling. Drummer Joel Barford has an amazing sense of swing.

’The Coast’ is a mid-tempo tune full of repeated piano motifs. Edis embellishes with dynamics. He pushes and pulls the tempo. Xenopolous’s tenor tone is rich and sonorous. He’ll add a blistering flurry of notes at the end of a phrase.

‘Coming Home To You’ is the prettiest tune on the album. Xenopolous’s tenor tells a good story. The piano is bluesy and soulful. The bass solo could bring a tear to your eye. The drummer’s understated presence lovingly helps hold this all together. This tune would not sound out of place in church.

Xenopolous plays the flute on ‘Mikey’s Samba.’ He’s a fine flutist but he’s more impressive on saxophone. Barford’s drum solo is terrific. Edis sounds like he’s been playing Brazilian samba since birth.

I like Xenopoulos on soprano sax. He plays beautifully on ‘Lockdown London.’ The quartet sounds so good that I was reminded of another one, the one with Coltrane and Tyner.

‘Get Off My Lawn’ is a joyous hard bop romp by all involved. As fast as the tenor is being played, the lines are clean and fluid. The piano is percussive with buoyant jagged lines. The bass feels like a train is coming down the track. The drumming is straight ahead at a full gallop.

FEELS LIKE HOME is a great jazz album. I think Vasilis is most at home playing the tenor. It sounds like that’s where his heart is.