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Steve Arguelles

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Biography of Steve Arguelles

Steve is a 'front line drummer'. From the age of 16, when he became the drummer backing the visiting performers at Ronnie Scott's, through his seminal work as a founder of the 80s group Loose Tubes, and his work with Django Bates in the early Human Chain, he has shown an innovation beyond the usual role of the drummer. He doesn't just support band, but leads from the front. It confirms what Richard Cook wrote in The Wire when reviewing his first album:

'Argüilles could be reshaping the drummer's entire role in British jazz.'

Indeed, as Pete Martin wrote, 'to describe him just as a drummer does him less than justice.'

Steve himself now lives mainly in Paris, though he regularly returns to London to work with his own sparring partners, both in his own band and also Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, John Taylor and Billy Jenkins. In Europe, he forms part of the Hask collective in Paris and is known for work with Christy Doran, Marc Ducret and, recently, Robert Dick. His group The Recyclers, with leading young French musicians, Benoî´ Delbecq on prepared piano and Noel Akchoté ¯n guitar, has one release on ZZ Records and has toured in Europe, Canada and UK. It is moving the central pivot of music away from the 'tradition' of melody and rhythm instruments. He also leads the quartet Blue Moon In A Function Room (with Stuart Hall, Billy Jenkins, Steve Watts), playing unusual versions of jazz standards - a Spike Jones for the end of the twentieth century.

Of his music, John Fordham in the Guardian, giving the CD, 'Busy Listening' (Babel BDV 9406), a top 4 star rating, called it

'quirky acoustic music in the inimitable Loose Tubes tradition'.

The band plays 'dance music of the twenty-first century', according to J?Solthurnmann of Swiss Radio. Many of the tunes in this group are by Steve himself, and the whole retains the dynamism, intensity and joy of his previous album, and his previous work in the original line-up of Human Chain with Django Bates. As well as these there are lively and occasionally manic versions of tunes by John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Charles Mingus and George Gershwin. He works with accordionist Huw Warren, well known from his work in his own band Perfect Houseplants, as musical director to June Tabor and Christine Tobin and recently with Billy Jenkins and The Fun Horns.

The music has a tautness and intensity lightened by the playing of his brother Julian, reminding us of his skills on the higher saxes - since in his live work he has been more recently been heard on baritone in the big bands of Carla Bley, Hermeto Pascoal, Mike Gibbs, Andy Sheppard and Django Bates. Stuart Hall once again has a chance to show his skills as a multi-instrumentalist on stringed instruments, hinted at in his work with Django Bates' Delightful Precipice and in 'Blue Moon In A Function Room' (BDV 9402). SteveWatts shows why he is one of the supreme bass players on the British jazz scene, with an effortless technique. Steve's credits include recordings with Christine Tobin, Billy Jenkins, Iain Ballamy and many others.

'Always an active collaborator rather than simply a hired accompanist, he has contributed attractively supple, exuberant drumming. He continues to make witty but cogent recordings under his own name.'

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