Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Freebass IV, Dec 92

Freebassing - By Paul Casserly, Stamp magazine Dec 1992.

Freebass are bassist Steve Harrop, his brother Ben on trombone, Nathan Haines on sax. Ben Holmes on alto. Ben Gilgan on keyboards, and Ritchie Campbell on drums. The band are new, (just 3 months old) but their brand of 'Acid Jazz' has already attracted a trailer-load of attention - partly because of young achiever/saxman Nathan Haines, but mostly because the music is so immediate and impressive.

The fusion of jazz and funk comes from the various backgrounds of the members - jazz players like the Harrops, and funksters like Gilgan who has played backing for the likes of Tina Cross, Ardijah and Randy Crawford.

'Acid Jazz' was coined in the UK in the mid eighties. ''It happened when all those English labels took black horn players and put them with a DJ backing rather than a live band'' explains Steve Harrop. Unlike Jazz Committee, Freebass perform all their own material and they practise!

''We never rehearsed with the Jazz Committee but now we've been forced to, which is great. We've had to get off our arses.''

The departure of Haines (who has gone back to New York to continue his scholarship) isn't an ideal part of the 'road to bigger things' but Harrop is certain the group will continue unharmed. ''It's a shame, but there are other players out there. Things will go on , but it will be different."

Nathan will appear, however, on a live album which has just been recorded at Cause Celebre and is due for release early next year. As for the interest (the album deal with Deepgrooves coming just weeks into the band's lifespan), Harrop is surprised. "Mostly by the people who aren't associated with jazz; the interest from them wasn't something I was expecting."

As for the name: ''it's spelt b a s s'' comes Harrop's well practised reply, 'FreeBASS!"

The Freebass album was digitally reissued in 2010, see here.

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