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Stephen Edwards, Portobello's jazz man

Stephen Edwards

Photographs courtesy of Katrinfilm

Stephen Edwards is as Notting Hill as they come. Living and working just a stone’s throw away from our Portobello Road store, he’s a man whose style and sound have been shaped by his surroundings and the glory days of London's club scene.

“I come from a dance background, which is how I got into jazz and avant garde music," he told us. "I’d go to clubs like The Wag and the Electric Ballroom, where you had people like Giles Peterson, Snowboy and the Jazz Section. Clubs that spawned dance groups like IDJ, that was my scene."

The Wag is to many, the stuff of legend. Founded in 1982, it was a place where northern soul, reggae, house and countless other genres collided. The regulars were a melting pot of age, creed and culture: on one night you might bump into David Bowie, on another, Prince. It's often remembered as the place that introduced hip-hop to London, but was also a hotbed for jazz dance – an underground style 

Stephen Edwards

Stephen preparing for a show, wearing the Navy Mandarin Jacket.

“I got into playing through that scene, it’s where I decided this is what I want to do. I went to Goldsmiths to study composition and arranging and did a lot of travelling, I met a lot of musicians in the UK and America who I work with today."

Today, Stephen’s focus is on his musical projects – of which there are many. “I have a six piece band, an eight piece and a couple of duos. I just played my first gig with my quartet at JazzCrypt. It went really well: the energy was high, the pub was packed, people were really loving the music.”

Stephen Edwards

Photographs courtesy of Katrinfilm

The set was billed as a celebration of music by Stephen's favourite composers, along with new work inspired by the likes of John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and Steve Lacy. Later this summer he’ll release his first UK album Mr Redman, named for his hero, the late Dewey Redman.

“I recorded that in Holland with a group of really top guys, with great horns and a rhythm section. When I started writing, I wanted to work with the best. I showed them my stuff, they listened and said ‘we’re in’.”

Stephen is already planning to tour the new album, and is also working on a stage production – again inspired by one of the greats. “It revolves around seven musicians who were influential in shaping John Coltrane’s music. I’m going to take that to the stage, but in the meantime I’m taking the album on the road.”

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