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Xhosa Cole Quartet

Friday 27 Jan 2023

Young King Cole called for his Tenor and called for his Bandmates Three!

Xhosa Cole - Tenor Sax, Steve Saunders – Guitar, Josh Vadiveloo – Bass, Nathan England Jones – Drums.

This band gave the audience a dazzlingly articulate display of improvisation, despite all but two of the numbers belonging to Thelonious Monk with the typically angular melodic lines of his compositions.

Xhosa Cole is a dynamic leader of a band that was given, and took, every opportunity to display their individual and collective abilities.

They began with Andy’s Shuffle – a tribute to the late, Birmingham-based saxophonist Andy Hamilton – it was a lively opening number launched into with gusto by Xhosa , supported strongly by Nathan with liberal use of his high-toned bass drum and followed by accomplished solos from Josh and Steve.

The first Monk number was Epistrophy which was given an imaginative treatment without losing its identity. Xhosa’s long and challenging solo was the highlight and he afterwards expressed his pleasure at the reception the audience had given the first two numbers.

Criss Cross began with short, considered, alternating solos from bass and drums. Sinatra’s I’ve Got a Crush On You also had a bass intro. to Xhosa’s brilliant solo – unhurried, melodic and constantly inventive; towards the end of it I wrote “mesmeric” – how I would love to hear it again! It ended with bowed bass and Nathan using mallets.

The first half ended with a Monk tune that I’d never heard of – Stuffy Turkey. It was a short, fun number with a lively beginning and a great guitar solo from Steve.

Trinkle Tinkle began the second half – another “difficult” Monk tune which the band played admirably including excellent solos from each member; Nathan’s was typically composed and thoughtful.

Think of One contained a particularly impressive solo from Josh and also demonstrated the excellent understanding between him and Nathan that was evident throughout the evening.


There was Evidence of the cohesiveness of this quartet as they built this number to an exciting climax with clever interplay from the trio supporting Xhosa’s solo.

The first of what turned out to be two encores demanded by the audience and happily (and wittily) agreed to by Xhosa was I Mean You, involving “round-robins” of short solos showing off the band’s skills. In the second encore Xhosa used his full and rich tone to give us a beautiful and distinctive rendition of Reflections.

It was a fitting end for an audience that had been delighted and inspired by an outstanding performance from a young band flying the flag for the future of jazz in the U.K.

Photos from the event

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