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John Stevens (Drums): New Cool

Track List

>Dudu's Gone - (previously unreleased)
>Do Be Up
>You're Life
>2 Free 1
>Dudu's Gone

Album Notes

Personnel: Ed Jones (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Gary Crosby (double bass).

Liner Note Author: Steve Beresford .

Recording information: Crawley Jazz Festival (08/05/1992).

Editors: Dave Bernez; Martin Davidson .

This 2006 release documents the complete performance at the Crawley Jazz Festival in August, 1992 of a quartet of young lions led by the great British jazz icon, drummer John Stevens. This reissue of New Cool replicates the obscure 1994 recording but adds the missing second version of "Dudu's Gone." Steve Beresford supplies solid written notes, and several video-derived color photos are also included. There is an exhilarating, raw quality to the music, which receives its inspiration from sources as diverse as Ornette Coleman and Dudu Pukawana. On both versions of "Dudu's Gone" and on "Do Be Up," the two horns, trumpeter/flugelhornist Byron Wallen, and soprano/tenor saxophonist Ed Jones, portray the sort of open, slightly ragged performances with which Coleman electrified the jazz world in the late '50s and early '60s. By the time of this recording, though, the radical, even controversial nature of the genre was hardly suspect; the first two piano-less cuts help recall how exciting this kind of sound can be, with their unbounded enthusiasm, and long, searing horn solos sandwiched between catchy heads. While "You're Life" takes a step further out, and "2 Free 1" showcases a lengthy lyrical solo by Ed Jones on soprano sax with the drums and acoustic bass egging him on, there is surprisingly little here that is not reasonably accessible, in keeping with the vision of Stevens in presenting a "people's sound," one that almost always contains an essential melodicism, but without compromising its integrity. Gary Crosby performs with a particularly confident élan on the second take of "Dudu's Gone," where he offers a fine solo and a strong, powerful, if relatively conventional technique. While there are some lapses in the overall production, especially in intonation, and in the sense that the tracks, in an ideal world, might have been shorter (but, of course, these are live performances, and prone to excessive length), this recording should be welcomed as an important find for its significance as an excellent example of Stevens' later work, and its sheer musicality. Upon its reissue, it held up well more than a decade after its initial performance, projecting the timeless qualities that provide a portal for more radical explorations and many pleasures in its own right. ~ Steven Loewy


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