John Stevens’ Away – Integration

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Robert Calvert saxophones
Nigel Moyse guitar
Martin Holder guitar
Nick Stephens electric bass
John Stevens drums

1. Relative Space 12:37
2. Anni 7:23
3. Integration 7:45
4. Ah! 8:16
5  Home 12:08
6. What’s That – inspired by Mongezi Feza 2:06

All compositions by John Stevens
Recorded by Robert Calvert live at The Plough Stockwell on 25th February1978

Produced by John Stevens
Previously released on vinyl
Artwork and photogaphy Fay Stephens

Loose Torque LT005 Category

John was convalescing after a knee operation. He sat listening to Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Bobby Bland, Sly……and decided he would like to play with electric instruments and utilise rock/funk rhythms while maintaining a free approach to collective improvisation. Nick Stephens

“The quality that I admire most in Away is their subversiveness. To the superficial listener they can sound like the next crossover band on the conveyor belt. Periodically, the ear is engaged by an indifferent disco riff, but that riff has a habit of imploding into sudden free music, and once again we’re back in Blackwell/Higgins territory – melodic drumming, the hippist of interplay, fine solos, fluid music…” Steve Lake Melody Maker – on the Phonogram studio album ‘Somewhere In Between’ 1976

“John Stevens and the art of fugue is an explosive enough combination at the best of times; unleashed on Friday nights Marquee, London, it blew away tourists and the incurious regulars alike with a supremely confident set. Stevens in his usual amiable way, urged the audience to let it all hang out – “you can even show ANIMOSITY, if you like”- and the band then launched into the deceptively laconic “Can’t explain” The beauty of Away’s electric jazz lies in its bold linear quality, which of course makes it highly accessible to a wide audience of rock fans. A potential danger, maybe, but their consistently articulate approach to the contrapuntal formula never ceases to amaze for sheer inventiveness. Away really does qualify as the proverbial irresistible force – against which few objects remain immovable for long.” Maureen Paton Melody Maker

‘Away represents some of the highest possibilities of electric rhythm-based music. What Stevens has put together is a group that embodies everything that other fusion bands were supposed to be, but somehow never were; that is, you take the rhythmic impetus of rock, which deals mainly with common time, you take rocks much-vaunted enthusiasm and energy and you bring to these elements the instrumental finesse and improvising intelligence of contemporary jazz. Except that in the case of Away the fusion is not that conscious or contrived anyhow. There’s no hint of compromise here. These guys just play what they are, and it comes out as free rock, bypassing completely the clichés of most electric jazz, jazz rock, disco jazz, jazz funk, fusion music or whatever. As in every John Stevens group, there’s a lot of humanity here. These musicians play from the heart. They don’t attempt to blind the listener with technique (which is the normal jazz rock modus operandi – witness the sterile acrobatics of Chick Correa, Stanley Clarke and John Mclaughlin); they aren’t in the least pompous or condescending in their attitude to rock; and they retain their sense of humour and their hip wit at all times.” Steve Lake Melody Maker -on the Phonogram studio album “Mazin’ Ennit” 1977

‘Stevens and his two bass players sound extraordinary, the nearest thing you’ll hear in this country to the kind of rhythm section that Miles Davis now uses – where you can happily listen to them mark time for half an album and not feel something’s missing.’
John Fordham Time Out

‘The state of the art defined. John Stevens Away offer up for inspection a merger method that embraces jazz, rock and more besides with purposeful equanimity that makes most illustrious American fusioneers seem like the perfunctory pranksters they probably are.’
Angus MacKinnon New Musical Express 1977