Nick started the, free jazz/improvised music, CD label LOOSE TORQUE in 2005 which currently has 22 releases.
Born Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire in 1946. Started first group, playing bass guitar, while still at school and was soon out on the road playing the R&B clubs, dance halls and US Bases of England and Europe. In 1966 he bought his first double bass and joined The Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra. In 1976 Stephens was asked to take his bass guitar along for a blow with John Stevens and altoist Trevor Watts. The result was John Stevens Away (mk II) and was the beginning of a long friendship and musical partnership between Stevens and Stephens. Nick was soon joined, in Away, by double bassist Ron Herman (Spontaneous Music Ensemble) and John and his two bass rhythm section were soon playing to critical acclaim. The group made three albums and two singles for Phonogram -VERTIGO the first single Annie was a very groovy Alternate Charts topper featuring John Martyn. They appeared twice on BBC televisions Old Grey Whistle Test and recorded several sessions for Radio 3's Jazz In Britain (available from Konnex Records) and one for John Peel's show.They made two national tours of big rock venues - one with The Jazz Crusaders - but never lost sight of the collective, group improvisation ethic that John had first nurtured in SME and The Little Theatre Club.
Nick continued to work with John until his death in 1994 playing in The Dance Orchestra, Folkus, Freebop, Fast Colour and umpteen gigs and workshops.
In 1988 he received his first of two Arts Council Bursaries for composition and formed the Nick Stephens Septet which featured a young Courtney Pine, Paul Rutherford and John Stevens and his son Richie on drums.
In 1983 Nick and John had flown to Norway to form the group Accent with Frode Gjerstad. The group didn’t last more than a couple of broadcasts and recordings and a few gigs, but Stephens and Gjerstad kept in touch and when, after his death in 1994, an all day festival was held in London, to celebrate the music of John Stevens, Nick and Frode played the penultimate set together with Norwegian drummer Terje Isungset. They were followed onstage by Paul Rutherford. The four got together after the concert and determined to form a quartet ‘Calling Signals’ After gigs in Scandinavia Stephens acquired an Arts Council grant to tour the UK.
The second incarnation of Calling Signals featured, Gjerstad, Stephens, South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo and Danish guitarist Hasse Poulson. They played several festivals and concerts in Norway and England and in 1996 recorded ‘Calling Signals‘ in London. Later versions of the group have featured Eivin One Pedersen, accordion and Paal Nilssen-Love. Calling Signals 08 featuring Gjerstad, Stephens, Lol Coxhill, Nilssen- Love released a live recording from London's Cafe Oto in October 09. Gjerstad and Stephens have also recorded together as a duo 'North Atlantic Drift' a trio with Kevin Norton 'Born In Brooklyn' Frode's Circulation Totale Orchestra and a trio with Louis Moholo-Moholo 'Quiddity' released November 09Read more
- A Winter's Tour by Glenn Astarita
Much more than just a complimentary presence, he draws expertly on his instrument’s wide communicative range to make sustained, substantial and imaginative statements." —Julian Cowley, The Wire
Nick's powerful and constantly creative bass playing is often at the center of the activity. Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson
A Winter's Tour