Preview: Sunday lunchtimes in November at Merlin’s Cave Jazz Club, Chalfont St. Giles

Allison Neale


Andy Boeckstaens writes:

It’s a constant marvel that so many brilliant musicians – generally based in London – travel well beyond the M25 to perform for a few dozen customers. Jazzin the Barn at Merlin’s Cave in Chalfont St.Giles has hosted some terrific sessions already this year, gigs led by saxophone players Benn Clatworthy, Alex Garnett and Art Themen, and trumpeters Steve Fishwick and Bruce Adams. But then again it isn't: the barn beside "the best pub and gardens in Buckinghamshire" is full of enthusiastic fans, an audience which listens intently, and takes a keen interest in the craft of the jazz musician. This month promises to be one of the best of the year.

3 November:

Allison Neale (alto saxophone), Dave Warren (guitar), Peter Hughes (bass) and Matt Home (drums). Neale’s sound and style are often likened to Paul Desmond’s, but her deliciously melodic saxophone and flute offer much more than that. Her experienced guitarist is known to play ukulele, so this could be interesting....

10 November:

Simon Spillett (tenor saxophone), John Critchinson (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass) and Matt Skelton (drums). When he was a teenager, Spillett came to the club regularly to study his heroes at close quarters. He learned well, and has become one of the UK’s top sax men (and a perceptive, knowlegable writer). During his 60-year career, Critchinson has played with the best in the business including Johnny Griffin, Chet Baker, Tubby Hayes and, for 15 unforgettable years, Ronnie Scott.

17 November:

Vasilis Xenopoulos (tenor saxophone), Leon Greening (electric piano), Peter Hughes (bass) and Matt Home (drums). For me, this is the highlight of the month at Merlin’s. The affable Athenian – based in London for over a decade - has a distinctive, propulsive approach that creates great excitement. With Greening and Home in tow, this band is expected to blow the barn doors off.

24 November:

Quentin Collins (trumpet), Peter Hughes (bass) and Bobby Orr (drums), pianist to be confirmed. Collins has worked with a plethora of stars from Prince to Lulu, but there is no question that his heart is in jazz. He’s a trumpet tornado in the Freddie Hubbard mould, and is accompanied here by the legendary Scottish drummer who first came to prominence (in 1959!) with the Joe Harriott Quintet.

The Merlin’s Cave
The Village Green
High Street
Chalfont St Giles
Bucks HP8 4QF


Admission is £5; doors open at 12 noon.

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