A MEMORY: David Mossman by Stan Sulzmann

The ‘old’ Vortex in Stoke Newington
Photo from
Stan Sulzmann writes:

I first played at the original Vortex well over 30 years ago on quiet mid-week nights in a trio with Jeff Clyne and Phil Lee. So I met Dave Mossman (1942-2018), instantly likeable, and full of enthusiasm and life, who ran the club along with Irving Kindersley. Irving left shortly after. I was one of many fortunate musicians to have crossed David’s path. The Vortex room had a great sound and what was lacking in audience numbers was more than made up for by Dave’s generous hospitality – fed and watered and a few extra drinks to take home in your bag! Wouldn’t be unusual to walk in and see Dave with his tool-kit changing the space, opening up a pillar blocking view, carrying out the maintenance and then rushing to the bar, serving drinks and food and answering the endless phone calls (no mobs in those days). Dave did absolutely everything with enthusiasm, positivity and grace. It was a great place to feel welcome and play whatever we wanted, facilitated by someone who genuinely loved the music.

Some time later David asked if I could run a regular ‘house band’ spot with John Parricelli, Steve Watts and Martin France featuring ‘special guests’. I jumped at the opportunity and we enjoyed several years of wonderful evenings with guests from John Taylor and Stan Tracey to Tim Garland and John Etheridge, Jason Yarde, Brian Kellock, Julian Arguelles to Marc Copland, Evan Parker, Norma Winstone…. I looked forward to those evenings so much and we all have fond memories. Audiences went up and down, and money was sometimes tight but David was always unfazed – just looking forward to the next night.

One particularly memorable occasion I had invited Paolo Fresu, the great Sardinian trumpet player. I had met him in Germany and he was very well established throughout Europe but unknown here in the UK. A shoestring budget and Paolo came with his partner and stayed at my home to make it work. I was praying for a good audience for him and the club! As was usual at the Vortex David had great friends and supporters, so an Italian writer Lara Bellini offered to help. She had access to an ‘Italians in London’ mailing list.

I walked in the club and said to Dave “how is it?”

“You’ll never believe it,” he said.

Oh no! I thought, no bookings…

Dave beamed: “We could have sold out for three nights!” There were queues outside round the corner. The place was bursting and Dave was sweating away at the bar but we were in hysterics because everybody apart from the band and Dave were speaking Italian. Apart from Paolo, when I announced “John Parricelli” they went crazy! We ended up with the audience spilling onto the stage and young women draped across the piano smoking, everyone clapping the backbeat on an encore blues!

David’s face was a picture! It could only happen at the Vortex!

Having now seen quite a few lovely tributes I will leave it to those better able to put in words what we all feel about David and what he represents as a human being and supporter of our music. Reading some of those tributes it reminds me of all the generations that have passed through the Vortex and will continue to do so. Long may it last and David be remembered for instigating these golden opportunities for us all and his invaluable contribution to life.

LINK: Oliver Weindling’s Tribute

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