20 August 2007

John Stevens Freebop - Live at Bracknell Jazz Festival July 3rd 1982 (FM Recording)

This is a rare example of the group led by the late great drummer John Stevens, called "Freebop". It was recorded by the BBC at the Bracknell (Berks, UK) Jazz Festival July 1982 and subsequently broadcast on FM radio. This posting comes from a bit torrent upped by "6135terry", my thanks to him. Of particular interest to me about this music, is the presence of altoist Pete King, who is a beebopper, not known for his excursions into this territory. The other band members are stalwarts of the UK free jazz scene (sadly though, Paul Rutheford passed away very recently, Stevens died in 1994).

There are only 25 minutes on this broadcast, the full concert was subsequently released on vinyl on the Affinity label (AFF101), from which the above image is obtained. This record is long OOP, if anyone has it I'd love to know as I think it was the only recording of this band. Stevens of course recorded as leader of many other bands, perhaps most notably SME. Many of the SME recordings are available on the EMANEM label.

Line up:

Paul Rutherford (tb)

Trevor Watts (as)

Pete King (as)

John Etheridge (g)

Jeff Clyne (b)

John Stevens (d).

Sorry about the brevity of this post, but at least it's only a small download.

Links in comments (320 kbps VBR)


Boromir said...



centrifuge said...

cracking little set! trevor watts in particular really tears it up.

the date given at the top of the post is totally different from that in the text file - i don't think this is the bracknell recording, in fact i'm sure it isn't... also maybe worth pointing out that this group is not the one on the album cover!

sotise said...

boromir , nice
it appears someone we know and love does have the lp ,and so shall we in due time, a clue lives in greece and has 7000 lp's

Boromir said...

Nice to see you're as vigilant as ever Centrifuge (at least you can't accuse me of it running to slowly). The cover indeed does refer to the Bracknell concert. The BBC recording must have been a studio one with a slightly different line-up.

Sotise, you know what they say about Greeks bearing gifts.

kinabalu said...

Yes, I've got this one and can sort out any uncertainties about who, what, where etc. I'm at work now, so I don't have the record here, obviously.

This is an excerpt or the entire thing? Of course, I can post my own copy if there's an interest, here or over at the C#9. From what I can recall, top copy, practically unplayed.

Just let me know.

Boromir said...


I think there's always plenty of interest in John Steven's recordings. You will make a lot of people happy if you post your copy, whether it be here or at the church.

centrifuge said...

i would certainly be interested (is it oop?!)

kinabalu said...

This looks like a live studio recording for the BBC in 1982 which was subsequently broadcast on radio. The announcer sounds to me like Peter Clayton.

The clue to sorting this one is in the second announcement where he refers to a recording done at last year's Bracknell (1981?) which he says should be out early in the new year (1983?). The record says 1982, but it's possible it was only in the shops by early 1983.

The line-ups for the Bracknell and the BBC gigs are different. Jon Corbett played at Bracknell while Trevor Watts and John Etheridge were on the BBC gig. Apart from that, the line-ups are the same.

The three pieces at the BBC gig are also on the Bracknell gig, though of course in different versions. The Bracknell also has a side-long piece derived or inspired by a Charlie Parker solo.

Right. That's that one sorted. I should have the Bracknell disk up by the weekend, I suppose.

Stay tuned.

Cent, I'm quite sure it's OOP. I did a check and saw that it's retailing at 25 quid and up on the second hand market. This one's never seen a cd release as far as I've been able to find out.

glmlr said...

Hey Boromir, I'm no Trojan Horse! As you well know from the Church. Born and raised smack in London-town, but gave it up for the pleasures of the Mediterranean!

Anonymous said...


I happen to have a copy of Freebop. Info:

John Stevens: Freebop
AFF 101
Recorded live at the South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell Jazz Festival, July 3, 1982
Gordon Beck-piano
Jon Corbett-trumpet
Pete King-alto
Paul Rutherford-trombone
Jeff Clyne-bass
John Stevens-drums
Track listing:
Side One:
1. Blue Line
2. Rhythm Is
3. Take Care
Side Two:
1. Okko
2. Kook

I haven't listened to this one as much I could/probably should have, because it's a burning session and actually not the typical route for European bop/free hybrids. The strong harmonic/chordal presence (piano), polytonal in a post-bop sense (rather than, say Keith Tippett classicism or Chris McGregor-ish marabi funk--I'd say it's more like Dave Brubeck in his out, out moments), lends the music a punchy, Geri Allen w/Ornette Coleman-sort of feel. On the whole this music feels very harmonically rooted--more like stuttering, frozen-in-place bebop harmonic motion rather than modalism, if you can catch that; I'm reminded at times of the great Joe Harriott Quintet, sensitive and swinging as it was/is.

Can't get it out as I am not at all set up for digital transfer, but the album is definitely worth looking out and begging your friends for. :)


Richard said...

Great set. Not sure it is Peter Clayton though. I used to listen to his Sounds of Jazz every week and this sounds like a younger man, with different phrasing. On the other hand - who else could it be?

Reza said...

message for sotise

Thanks for the Patch of Blue ...have only just found all my comments , seem they weren't coming throught to my email

will post asap :)

kinabalu said...

I had the "Freebop" done last night, but listening back to the files, the whole thing's in mono! That's what happens when you get a new machine, innit? Something funny happened in translation, obviously. Anyway, hang in there and I'll have the thing up in proper stereo (even if I may have to redo the rip). You can never spend too much time on quality control, take my word for it.

kinabalu said...

Right. Redone on the old machine and in proper stereo(!)

It's a hybrid of sorts which really works, imho. Particularly enjoyed the interplay of Peter King and Gordon Beck. Really a bit of a showcase for King on this date. And proves that John Stevens did a whole more than the pure improv of SME (which I find myself appreciating as much, if not more).

Link here:



Boromir said...

Many thanks for this upload kinabalu. Pete King is still playing as well as ever. Amongst other stuff, he does Charlie Parker tribute gigs in partnership with Alan Skidmore.

centrifuge said...

kinabalu, thanks :) what an excellent group.

the details of the respective (bracknell j.f. and bbc) sessions are cleared up here:


- stevens' page on the efi main site has links to the other parts of this enormous sessionography!

Bill Barton said...

Great stuff! Thanks for posting this.

romy said...


is there another link i could access this album? using the above link, the 2nd cut/part seems to be corrupt. got the fist part though (27:03)and its really good!


kinabalu said...

New links for John Stevens Freebop BBC R1, ‘Sounds of Jazz' November 7th, 1982



Andrew James Brown said...

Greetings. Many thanks for the re-upload of the FM broadcast. Very much appreciated.

Warmest wishes,


john said...

thanks for keeping this posted; I passed it up at first, but am particularly enjoying Trevor Watts' playing a the moment (from the 70's & 80's), so I'm glad to find some here.

propylaen2001 said...

Hi there!
I'd greatly appreciate if this could be reposted.
Even more so if it could be posted in lossless, but also happy with the mp3 version.
Thanks in advance.