An early 80s buzz on the London jazz scene, drummer Tommy Chase had the unpleasant honour of releasing Stiff’s penultimate album before the company went bankrupt in 1987. That album - Groove Merchant (SEEZ 066) – also spawned a single, Killer Joe (BUY 256), written by Chase and Benny Golson.
While the album and single failed to sell, signing Chase couldn’t have been a more credible foray for the label into the world of jazz. In the period it was released, the Quartet was all over the live scene – a favorite at The Wag, Japan, the first Soho Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh Festival in support of the album.
Killer Joe arrived just a few years before the Acid Jazz scene in the UK, but is symptomatic of Chase’s old school jazz style. Old school as in 1950s, Art Blakey, Blue Note/Prestige-style hard-bop. His Quartet was also a training ground for many players that passed through its ranks, including the saxophonist Alan Barnes. Double bass on the album was provided by Martin Klute who, coincidentally, had briefly played with The Damned before he moved into the jazz scene. And its producer – Steve Lipson – would go on to record for Stiff in his own right in 2007, as part of The Producers.