JAZZ as well as pizza has always been on the menu of a famous restaurant chain.

It was 50 years ago that Peter Boizot founded the Pizza Express chain of restaurants.

And in the late 1970s he launched the Pizza Express All Stars as a house band for his club in the basement of his Soho restaurant.

The All Stars’ 35th anniversary is being celebrated with a reunion of four of the band’s original members – Dave Shepherd (clarinet), Digby Fairweather (cornet), Roy Williams (trombone) and Len Skeat (double bass).

They served up a mouth watering feast for jazz aficionados when the reunion party moved to Eastleigh’s Concorde Club.

This was a jazz masterclass by Britain’s finest with offerings from the back catalogues of American music greats like Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington.

Former leader of the band, 86-year-old Dave Shepherd’s reputation with the swing clarinet has won him many accolades including the title of Britain’s Benny Goodman.

Shepherd set a scorching pace with his solo Runnin’ Wild featured in the 1959 comedy film classic Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Munroe.

Digby’s enthusiasm spreads like wildfire as soon as he steps on stage. He performed a fine interpretation of Billie Holiday’s When A Woman Loves A Man in the second set which I felt was stronger than the first.

World class trombone player Roy Williams – a former member of the Alex Welsh and Humphrey Lyttelton bands – delivered with great style the Cole Porter classic Everything I Love.

But the stellar performance of the night came from Martin Litton, dubbed the professor of the jazz piano, who wowed the audience as he condensed the Ellington Orchestra’s 20s Washington Wabble with an explosive performance on the ivories.

Also making a guest spot with the Pizza Express All Stars was veteran drummer Stan Bourke whose glittering CV includes many West End musicals.

Sprinkled between the numbers were amusing anecdotes of those early days of the Pizza All Stars.