Drummer John Stevens in an uncharacteristically straight-ahead record from the 70s London scene performing live in a trio with saxophonist Mike Osborne and bassist Paul Rogers.
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Catalog ID: aylCD-007
Squidco Product Code: 12222
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded in concert at "The Plough", Stockwell Road, London, England on March 30, 1979.
Mike Osborne-alto saxophone
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• Show Bio for John Stevens
"John William Stevens (10 June 1940 in Brentford, Middlesex - 13 September 1994 in Ealing, west London) was an English drummer. He was one of the most significant figures in early free improvisation, and a founding member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME).
Stevens was born in Brentford, the son of a tap dancer. He used to listen to jazz as a child, but was initially more interested in drawing and painting (media through which he also expressed himself throughout his life). He studied at the Ealing Art College and then started work in a design studio, but left at 19 to join the Royal Air Force. He studied the drums at the Royal Air Force School of Music in Uxbridge, and while there met Trevor Watts and Paul Rutherford, two musicians who became close collaborators.
In the mid-1960s Stevens began to play in London jazz groups alongside musicians like Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, and in 1965 he fronted a septet. Influenced by the free jazz he was hearing coming out of the United States by players like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, his style began to move away from fairly traditional be-bop to something more experimental.
In 1966 SME was formed with Watts and Rutherford and the group moved into the Little Theatre Club at Garrick Yard, St. Martin's Lane, London to develop their new music. In 1967 their first album, Challenge, was released. Stevens then became interested in the music of Anton Webern, and the SME began to play generally very quiet music. Stevens also became interested in non-Western musics.
The SME went on to make a large number of records with an ever changing line-up and an ever changing number of members, but Stevens was always there, at the centre of the group's activity. He also played in a number of other groups, drumming in Watts' group Amalgam and later forming bands like Freebop and Fast Colour, for example, but the SME remained at the centre of his activities.
In the latter part of 1967 Evan Parker joined the SME and worked closely with Stevens in the group, eventually becoming one of the longest standing members. He later summed up Stevens' approach to improvising in two basic maxims: if you can't hear another musician, then you're too loud; and there is no point in group improvisation if what you are playing doesn't relate to what other members of the group are playing.
Stevens also devised a number of basic starting points for improvisation. These were not "compositions" as such, but rather a means of getting improvisational activity started, which could then go off in any direction. One of these was the so-called "Click Piece" which essentially asked for each player to repeatedly play a note as short as possible.
Stevens played alongside a large number of prominent free improvisors in the SME, including Derek Bailey, Peter Kowald, Julie Tippetts and Robert Calvert, but from the mid-1970s, the make-up of the SME began to settle down to a regular group of Stevens, Nigel Coombes playing violin, and Roger Smith playing guitar. During the mid-1970s Stevens played regularly with guitarist and songwriter John Martyn as part of a trio that included bassist Danny Thompson. This line up can be heard on Martyn's 1976 recording Live at Leeds.
From 1983 Stevens was involved with Community Music (CM), an organisation through which he took his form of music making to youth clubs, mental health institutions and other unusual places. Notes taken during these sessions were later turned into a book for the Open University called Search and Reflect (1985). In the late 70s and early 80s John was a regular performer at the Bracknell Jazz Festival.
Aside from SME, Stevens also ran or helped to organise groups that were more jazz or jazz-rock based, such as Splinters, the John Stevens Dance Orchestra, Away, Freebop, Folkus, Fast Colour, PRS, and the John Stevens Quintet and Quartet. He also contributed significantly to Trevor Watts' group Amalgam and Frode Gjerstad's Detail, as well as collaborating with Bobby Bradford on several occasions.
The SME continued to play, the last time being in 1994 with a group including John Butcher. Stevens died later that year."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stevens_(drummer))
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• Show Bio for Paul Rogers
"Paul Rogers - Double Bass
Born : April 27th, 1956 - Chester (Wales)Past Bands : Keith Tippett Sextet (1978, 1983-84), Elton Dean Quintet (1979, 1995), John Stevens Away (1980), Skidmore/Rogers/Levin (1984-87), Dunmall/Rogers/Levin (1984-87), Mujician (1988-), Pip Pyle's Equip'Out (1990-95), Sophia Domancich Trio (1990-99)Current Projects : Mujician + various jazz groups
A Short Bio:
For Paul Rogers, music began in earnest at age 12, when he first picked up an acoustic guitar. In a way this was the shape of things to come, since that particular guitar only had four strings left. Two years later, he took up bass guitar, and then, with the money earned from various jobs, finally acquired his own double bass in 1973.
Moving to London in 1974, Rogers started gigging in pubs, until he met saxophone player Mike Osborne, and through him was introduced to the free jazz scene, soon sharing the stage with such luminaries as Elton Dean, Keith Tippett, John Stevens, Howard Riley, Stan Tracey, Ken Hyder, Alan Skidmore, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, Kenny Wheeler and John Etheridge. During this period, he was rarely in the same group for too long, preferring to accumulate experience through associations with as many musicians as possible.
After 1984, however, he started working on a regular basis with drummer Tony Levin, in trios with either Alan Skidmore or Paul Dunmall. In 1988, the Dunmall/Rogers/Levin trio with absorbed into the acclaimed improvising quartet Mujician, which associated them with pianist Keith Tippett. The group has existed ever since, playing totally spontaneous music, and released several albums for the US label Cuneiform.
In 1987, Rogers moved to the USA, living in New York City (and more precisely Bronx) for a year and a half, and playing with the likes of Gerry Hemingway, Don Byron, Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, Tom Cora and Tim Berne. Soon after returning to Europe, he was recruited by Pip Pyle for the new line-up of his jazz quartet Equip'Out. Elton Dean and Sophia Domancich completed the group, which only lasted for a handful of gigs and an album recording, "Up!". Although Equip'Out didn't record after Domancich left in 1991, the band continued until 1995, with Francis Lockwood taking over on piano, followed by Patrice Meyer who introduced guitar into a previously piano-based line-up.
Having established both a musical and personal relationship with Sophia Domancich during their Equip'Out days, Rogers joined her trio, with Bruno Tocanne on drums, soon replaced by Tony Levin, a line-up which remained in place until 1999 and recorded several acclaimed albums. Now settled in France, Rogers has also worked with such improvisers as Michel Doneda and Daunik Lazro, but remains active on an international basis, having worked in recent years with Andrew Cyrille, John Zorn, Derek Bailey, Lol Coxhill, Barry Guy, Joachim Kuhn, Alex von Schlippenbach.
Rogers is also a composer, and has been involved with different bands playing his tunes, among which the most notable was 7 R.P.M. and the Paul Rogers Sextet (which did a 10-date UK tour in November 1990 performing his 'Anglo-American Sketches' suite). He received three commisions from the Arts Council of Great Britain to compose music for his own band. Under his own name, he released a quartet album with frequent associates Paul Dunmall, Sophia Domancich and Tony Levin, as well as an entirely solo set.
Among Rogers' tours, four of the most outstanding were the Harry Beckett Trio middle east tour in 1984, Evan Parker Trio tour of Rumania, Yugaslavia and Greece in 1985, First House tour of South America in 1986, and the Dennis Gonzales Band tour of the USA, featuring Carlos Ward and Tim Green in 1990."-Calyx Canterbury (http://www.calyx-canterbury.fr/mus/rogers_paul.html)
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1. Blue Rondo 10:29
2. Plough Story 9:18
3. Carrousel 8:06
4. Cherokee 9:09
5. Summertime 5:34
6. The Restart 7:49
7. MO Recapulations 23:08
sample the album:
"If you're expecting the intricate, crystalline insect music of John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble, you can put this one back in the rack.Stevens was equally at home playing rowdy jazz rock and hard-swinging bop, and March 1979 found him in one of his familiar haunts, a sweaty, smoky London pub called the Plough, fronting a trio with veteran British altoist Mike Osborne and a young Paul Rogers on bass. Not only that, but the programme on offer here includes two venerable chestnuts, "Summertime" and "Cherokee", as well as Jackie McLean's "Blue Rondo" and four straight-head originals by Osborne.
Jan Ström's Sweden-based Ayler label has got quite a bit of flak recently (from me included) regarding the occasionally dodgy sound quality of its releases, but with historic material such as this (and Ström apparently has several thousand concerts in his archive!), as with some of the legendary Charlie Parker live recordings and the early Leo releases whose tapes were smuggled under the Iron Curtain, such criticism is petty and small-minded.We can hear enough to say that Rogers was already a damn fine bassist, Osborne an extremely inventive post-bop player, and Stevens a veritable propulsion engine of a drummer. Of course, if your idea of a good time is a spotless, cool, Nordic ECM studio recording or Incus/Emanem-style thorny no-concessions improv, this may not be for you, but if you're not afraid of Jazz (with a capital J) and want to have a real idea of exactly what those fabled London pub sessions were like, pull yourself a pint of warm ale and put this on nice and loud.Now, I wonder if Ström has a tape of another pub gig Stevens did about that time with Eugene Chadbourne and Toshinori Kondo."-Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
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