Nick Stephens’ Septet Live At The Plough

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Chris Biscoe alto saxophone
Jerry Underwood tenor saxophone
Jon Corbett trumpet
Annie Whitehead trombone
Alf Waite trombone
Mano Ventura guitar
Brian Davison drums
Mark Sanders drums
Nick Stephens double bass, composer
All compositions by Nick Stephens

1. Just One Ornetto 21:58
2. Do Do That Dudu That You Do 18:07
3. Fay’zed 12:43
4. No Me Degas Nada 9:07

5. West Eleven 15:36
6. One For Ron segue Cunning Mingus 28:32
7. In Off 8:33

Recorded in 1988/89 at the Plough, Stockwell
Artwork Fay Stephens

Loose Torque LT007 Category

“… stands proudly among the label’s very best. No me degas nada, a vortex of African patterns and unchained screaming built over Ventura’s surprisingly minimal yet highly energizing arpeggios and double stops. The guitarist’s jangling accompaniment launches the opening track in the second CD, a half-reggae-half-Tippett beauty called West 11 which made me want to leave my chair, open the window to the sun of a wonderfully atypical November morning and intimately rejoice.” Massimo Ricci – Touching Extremes

The Plough was a regular monthly gig for The Septet for two years. This double CD represents what would be a typical two set Saturday night. I would try and remember to bring a cassette tape along and the manager of The Plough would try and remember to put it in the cassette recorder attached to the desk. The sound varied each time and I would often get home to find that the tape had run out in the middle of a piece and not been changed until the middle of another. For this reason, and to find the best versions, the pieces are from different nights. “One for Ron” was written in memory of my mate bassist Ron Herman, although it became “One For John”when we performed it at John Stevens funeral. The other dedications are self explanatory in the titles.

“Vastly entertaining and irrefutably energetic, this is one of those blasts from the past that transcends the norm”. Glenn Astarita All About Jazz

“Whitehead sounds fantastic, like Fred Wesley possessed by the late Albert Mangelsdorff” Jason Bivins Signal To Noise.

Also see Ken Waxman‘s review at :

Reviews from back then:

“The band has some fierce improvising talent in its ranks that Stephens employs in a no apologies role, blowing over his own strong material.” TIME OUT

“Vibrant, multi-influenced, finely pedigreed, free spirited and modern.” THE GUARDIAN

“Free leaning improvisation against an infectious groove” CITY LIMITS

“Bass player Stephens is a man who inspires those around him to produce the best possible performance. An upfront band leader whose solo work is lilting and breathtaking yet leaves room for band members to work as a collective unit.” CITY LIMITS

“A bass player who has formed the core of a number of fine Afro/free jazzgroups, Stephens’ own music makes sharp and eclectic references to post-Mingus, Ornette Coleman and world music styles offering an entertaining and refreshing alternative to tired out bop themes and completely free set-ups.” TIME OUT

“Rock steady strength and impeccable lyricism.” WIRE


Mike Westbrook, George Russel, Kenny Wheeler, Brotherhood Of Breath.
“His melodic lines are like tales of the unexpected” THE GUARDIAN
London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Company, Freebop, Away
“Extraordinary versatility and range” VENUE
Keith Tippet, Spirit Level, Andy Sheppard.
“Powerful, bruising tenor” THE GUARDIAN
James Blood Ulmer, Brotherhood Of Breath, Charlie Watts Orchestra, Penguin Café Orchestra,
“A powerful mixture ofAfrican grooves, blustery free jazz and bursts of driving blues” THE GUARDIAN
Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson, Mondesir Brothers.
“Fiery style, sensitive touch” TIME OUT
The Nice, Jack Bruce, Eberhard Weber
“Best drummer” MELODY MAKER POLL
Evan Parker, Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble, Elton Dean, Mats Gustafsson.

“…each of whom contribute various approaches to the ensemble frenzy” THE GUARDIAN