Home » Jazz Musicians » Nick Stephens

Nick Stephens

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 09

Read more


Album Review

Calling Signals 09: A Winter's Tour

Read "A Winter's Tour" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

British bassist Nick Stephens has always been a prominent mainstay within Europe's avant-jazz landscape. His affiliation with legendary British free-jazz pioneer and drummer John Stevens looms as one component of the bassist's overall dynamic and legacy. This rendition of Stephen's Calling Signals band was recorded live in 2009 during a brief tour of the U.K., and unites a prominent Scandinavian contingent of reedman Frode Gjerstad and drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love. The extended tracks enable the band to stretch, reinvent, ...

Multiple Reviews

Nick Stephens: Freedom of the City 2006; Desire Lines; All Said & Dun; Don't Answer It & Today's Play

Read "Nick Stephens: Freedom of the City 2006; Desire Lines; All Said & Dun; Don't Answer It & Today's Play" reviewed by Marc Medwin

Various Artists Freedom of the City 2006 Emanem 2007 The Occasional Quartet Desire Lines Loose Torque 2007 Paul Dunmall/Nick Stephens/Tony Marsh All Said & Dun Loose Torque 2007 The Schizo Quartet Don't Answer It Loose Torque 2007 Jon Corbett/Nick Stephens/Tony ...

Read more articles
"Nick Stephens thrives in a trio where he can soak up space with booming long notes, slip in a sleek line between the splash of cymbals and the texture of a horn, and place otherworldly arco color in the foreground. The bassist is the fulcrum of two of the better albums by improvising trios this year Bill Shoemaker at Point Of Departure

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

Read more



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Crackle -...

Loose Torque


Kongens Gade

Leo Records


A Winter's Tour

Loose Torque




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.