JJ 04/83: John Stevens – Freebop

Forty years ago Barry McRae saw drummer Stevens' Freebop, here recorded at the 1982 Bracknell festival, as one of the finest groups in Europe. First published in Jazz Journal April 1983


Freebop is a group that has assembled some of the finest jazzmen Britain has produced. Its name is self descriptive in that it brings together men associated with straight bop and others whose prime interest is in freer music. Since bop is the parent style and because all of the musicians involved are fine players, this is a formula for success.

I was present when this recording was made in a large tent in Berk­shire, but I am surprised how my memory has played tricks. At the time, I was most impressed by the superb interaction of Clyne’s bass and Stevens’ drums and yet, good as they were, I had forgotten how subtle some of the background support had been from the horn players.

Obviously the solos were not for­gotten. Beck builds a superb melod­ic flow on Blue Line, the unpredict­able Rutherford is excitingly creative on Rhythm Is, while Take Care is dominated by King in majestic form. King, again, and Corbett shine on the OKKO and KOOK mixture and this suite also has the group’s finest collective moments.

Freebop is already one of the finest groups in Europe and this record will be welcomed by boppers and free formers alike.

Blue Line; Rhythm Is; Take Care (26.30) – OKKO; KOOK (16.15)
Jon Corbett (t); Paul Rutherford (tb); Pete King (as); Gordon Beck (p); Jeff Clyne (b); John Stevens (d). Bracknell, July 1982.
(Affinity AFF 101)