With a return that is even more welcome than that of the Jedi, Jade Warrior are back with a simply stunning album, Now (Windweaver Records, 2008). There is always an element of risk when you have a long, established, and highly respected tradition surrounding a band, and you decide to return to the studio to revive that name.
No need to worry here. Now oozes all the quality you could possibly hope for. Let’s get a couple of opinions out and up front from the off. With Now they have released a deeply effective album that, if anything, adds to that already bulging reputation.
For a band with a long history of producing some of the most attractive Japanese style covers imaginable, they have come up trumps again. The artwork inside the cover is achieved by Toyokuni IV, assisted by Barry Turner. How I would love that in my hallway.
The line up is a combination of Jade Warrior past and present. There are the flutes, percussion, and keyboards of Jon Field. Glyn Havard returns to add his vocals and guitar. Dave Sturt completes the line up on bass, percussion, and keys. Added to the mix are an impressive list of guest musicians, guitarist Tim Stone, pianist Chris Ingham, drummer Jeff Davenport, and saxophonist Theo Travis (Gong, Soft Machine).
The band formed following the meeting of the musical minds of Jon Field, and Tony Duhig in the early 1960s. After various changes in name and line ups, the band finally morphed into Jade Warrior. They found a home firstly on the Vertigo label, for three albums, and latterly on Island for their next four. It had been Steve Winwood who had recommended them to Island.
Their style on these early albums was one of trademark complexity. There are touches of straight forward rock, splashes of what we would now call ‘world music’, some African tempos, and dramatic shifts in timings. Their sound was distinctive through Jon Field’s flute playing.