Larry Stabbins Profile

"One of the true greats of British music" - Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio1

"a consummate saxophonist who has been at the cutting edge of jazz for much of his career" - Ian Carr, Rough Guide to Jazz

"One of the most innovative saxophonists in Britain" - Anthony Wood, The Wire

When I was eight and learning the clarinet at school, my musical idol was Acker Bilk. Then one of my dad's friends played me some MJQ and Dave Brubeck had a hit with Take Five.

When I went to big school I played in the Jazz Club with the big boys and Steve White played me Ornette Coleman and Mr Wynne -Wilson brought Monk tunes.

I bought John Coltrane's Africa/Brass on my thirteenth birthday and tried to play along. A couple of weeks later at a rehearsal with the mainstream band I was playing in with even bigger boys, I played a solo and thought I was getting some where. Afterwards the bandleader came to me and said "Don't you ever do that again". They stopped asking me after that. I thought "There's more to this stuff than I thought".

When I met Keith Tippett he said "You sound just like Stan Getz" -then I discovered Junior Walker -I still love Junior Walker.

 The first time I saw Peter Brotzmann was in the Plough in Stockwell in the early seventies and I was (almost literally) blown away-I'd never heard a saxophone so powerful and so LOUD. Next time I saw him I played with Tony Oxley at Bracknell Jazz Festival before him and he said I had a good sound and I was blown away again.

I've got a piece of manuscript written in scrawled pencil by Gil Evans-a part written for me to play on his arrangement of a tune I wrote for the film Absolute Beginners -its crap film but that bit of paper is one of my most treasured possessions.

The other one is a stage pass which says Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Concert -Larry Stabbins -The Specials.

Larry was born in Bristol where he started playing saxophone at the age of eleven. He started a long association with pianist Keith Tippett when he was sixteen, at the same time serving his musical apprenticeship in countless soul bands, playing the music of Jnr Walker and King Curtis, James Brown and Sam and Dave. He later contributed to many of Tippett's projects such as Centipede, Ark, Tapestry and the Septet. In addition to occasional duo performances, in the mid-eighties they also worked as a trio for a time with percussionist Louis Moholo, while Tippett was himself involved in various Working Week and Weekend activities and Keith's wife Julie sang on the fourth Working Week album.

In London in the early 70’s after a short spell in the Brotherhood of Breath, he attended John Stevens’ Ealing workshops and played with the Spontaneous Music Orchestra, and occasionally with SME and the Dance Orchestra. As a result he met many of the `second generation` of British and particularly Roy Ashbury with whom he formed a regular duo. During this period in London he also worked as a freelance commercial musician, playing studio sessions, nightclubs and West End shows as well as playing in more jazz based situations such as Mike Westbrook’s `Solid Gold Cadillac`.
In 1979 he joined the Tony Oxley Quintet alongside Howard Riley, Barry Guy (later replaced by Hugh Metcalfe) and Phil Wachsmann and played in various permutations of it for many years (including one with Pat Thomas, Manfred Schoof and Sirone in 1992) and also Oxley’s Celebration Orchestra. At the same time he also joined the London Jazz Composers Orchestra with whom he played until about 1985, and also Peter Brotzmann’s Alarm Orchestra and its successor the Tentet `Marz Combo`. The early 80’s also saw him play in the Eddie Prevost Quartet, Trevor Watt’s Moire Music, Louis Moholo’s Spirits Rejoice, and Elton Dean’s Ninesense as well as touring (the then East) Germany with Heinz Becker’s Quintet with Uli Gumpert, Radu Malfatti, Peter Kowald and Stefan Hubner.

Alongside this he played in the seminal pop group Weekend and formed a key writing partnership with its guitarist Simon Booth. This became the basis for Working Week, a project that took a melange of latin, soul and jazz into the world of pop and dance music. Born out of the burgeoning Latin Jazz Dance scene in London clubs such as the Electric Ballroom and the Wag, the new band mixed jazz with modish Latin dance rhythms and vocals by singers such as Juliet Roberts, Julie Tippetts, Robert Wyatt and Tracy Thorn. They became a dominating force in the British jazz revival, the movement that made jazz fashionable again, introducing it to a new young audience and instigating a great upsurge in new talent onto the British Jazz Scene. The band toured extensively in Europe and Japan, performing at most of Europe's major Jazz Festivals, recording five albums for Virgin Records, in addition to writing for film and TV. The demise of Working Week was followed by QRZ? a fusion of jazz and rap which also recorded for Virgin and the German label Loud Minority.Here's Working week at their best at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1985.

Following a period away from music, in recent years in addition to his own projects, he has worked with Keith Tippett’s Tapestry, in a quartet with Howard Riley, in Louis Moholo’s Dedication Ochestra, in Soupsongs playing the music of Robert Wyatt and more recently in Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra.Here's Larry with Robert Wyatt in a great band which includes the original Working Week horn section Annie Whitehead and Harry Beckett.

Here's the Stonephace Stabbins band playing John Coltrane's Africa at an early gig :

Selected Album Discography
Septober Energy (1971) RCA Keith Tippett’s `Centipede`
Mouthpiece (1973) Emanem 4039 Spontaneous Music Orchestra
Fire Without Bricks (1976) Bead 4 Ashbury Stabbins duo
Frames (1978) Ogun 3/4 Keith Tippett’s `Ark`
Mama Lapato (1979/1981) Bead20 Mama Lapato
Stringer (1980) FMP SAJ-41 London Jazz Composers Orchestra
Tern (1982) FMP SAJ-43/44/ Unheard Music Series Moholo, Stabbins, Tippett
Continuum (1983) Matchless MR7 Eddie Prevost Quartet
Re-released with extra tracks as MRCD07 1999
A Loose Kite…..(1984) Ogun 007/008 Keith Tippett Septet
Tomorrow Is Here (1985) Dossier ST 7507 Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra
Working Nights (1984/5) ) `Working Week    Virgin Records
Companeros (1986)   `Working Week  Virgin Records
Surrender (1987)             `Working Week   Virgin Records
Fire In The Mountain (1989) `Working Week  Virgin Records
Black and Gold (1991) `Working Week  Virgin Records
The Marz Combo (1992) FMP CD47 Peter Brotzmann Tentet
Prayer (1999) One track on `Talking Drums` Unknown Public 12 Larry Stabbins/Oktal
Four in the afternoon (2001) Emanem 4067 Wren/Stabbins/Riley/Sanders
Monadic (2002) Emanem Solo Saxophone Improvisations released 2003
Stonephace (2009) Stonephace Tru Thoughts
Plus-for the record-Unreleased Sessions
Brotherhood of Breath
Jazz in Britain - BBC Broadcast June 1971
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Jazz in Britain- BBC Broadcast April 1972
Elton Dean's "Ninesense"
Jazz in Britain - BBC Broadcast 20th June, 1979
Febuary Papers 2  (1981)
Tony Oxley various combinations
Total Music Meeting FMP
Peter Brotzmann Alarm Orchstra
Workshop Freie Music FMP
Workshop Freie Music FMP
Tru Thoughts